Today marks the 2nd year anniversary of the day God first led us to Changed Lives Church. We had visited several different churches in the past, even attending one for almost 2 years, before realizing we hadn’t found much growth in our relationships with God. Since coming to our new church, we now can see many obvious signs we are in the right church for us. Prior to moving to this new church, I had been discouraged with my job, trying to see how my role working for a huge technology company really made any bit of difference in this world. There were so many others who had what I felt were such important jobs helping people every day, such as social workers, physical therapists, doctors, nurses, community service workers, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, and more. I prayed that God would help me find something more purposeful to do in life.
One day while searching online for a Christian event to attend in our area, a website came up in the search results for a brand new church recently established. The website proclaimed a new church where you are “free to be all that Christ created you to be,” indicating it was a church that “integrates faith with cutting-edge visual media, contemporary soul-stirring music, and an innovative message designed to strengthen your relationship with God and to walk out a Changed life.” The website indicated they were looking for people to help with building a new church. My husband, Rich, wanted to go to the church service the very next day, but the website indicated they met at 2pm each Sunday in an old church building which had been vacant. I reminded him we had plans with our daughter’s family the next day at the same time so could not make it. There was also a note on the website which indicated they held “launch meetings” at 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings in the Township Middle School Auditorium. My husband said he was going to attend, and I pleaded it wouldn’t be right to go to their launch meeting, because I felt it was a planning session. He was insistent on attending, and said I didn’t have to go with him, but he was going! So I went along with him and when we arrived, we heard such wonderful music and singing from the hallway. The music was just coming to an end, so Rich stuck his head in the door, apologizing for interrupting the meeting, and the Pastor called us in and said, “Praise God!”
On this very first day we came to Changed Lives Church, our lives were forever changed when Pastor Lawrence walked over to greet us and asked what brought us there. Rich told him his testimony and we explained the website search. As it turned out, the morning time slot was their new Sunday service – they were not actually holding services in the vacant church as the website had indicated. They explained they hadn’t updated the website yet with the new information. So again, I feel the experience is another example to us of being Divinely diverted by God to get to the service at the right time.
The Pastor spoke to us about Jesus, and right there and then we asked Jesus to come into our hearts and we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. Pastor Lawrence and his wife, Pastor Celeste, hugged us and said “Welcome to Changed Lives Church!” The other members came over to hug and welcome us to the church as well. Rich has often described the moment in this way: “Everyone there came over to welcome us and I felt this incredible love and a special feeling I had NEVER known. I now realize that feeling was the Holy Spirit and He has been with me ever since, guiding me through life on this journey God has called me to…” Rich continued to speak to the Pastors and the other members of the church that very first day, telling his testimony of the trials he has been through in life with his past addiction struggles and his traumatic brain injury. Everyone there was very sympathetic and appreciative of Rich sharing his testimony.
Not in any other Church had we ever felt so welcomed and felt such love and sincerity as we did when we walked into Changed Lives Church that very first day. It was so pleasing to us to find that Pastors Lawrence and Celeste wanted this Church to be a diverse, non-denominational, Bible-based ministry, and one where the main purpose was to reach out, show love in the community, and tell everyone we can about Jesus Christ. We truly believe God led us there and had called us to be a part of this wonderful new church. We have continued to attend services every week since that first day.
Here are some of the secrets we have discovered that may help you know if you have found the perfect church for you:
1) You have gotten busy doing whatever God has called you to do in order to show love and spread the news of Jesus Christ in the community (without a thought of what others around you are, or are not doing). We have become Outreach Coordinators for our church and we are now partnering with other community organizations for fundraising and food drives, as well as reaching out on our own to the homeless community in our area. We do not judge others who may not seem to be doing as much. We are doing these things for our amazing God, so it makes no difference to us what others may or may not be doing on a daily basis.
2) You have a renewed mind and spirit which also comes with an amazing sense of peace! Since accepting Jesus in our hearts and giving control of our lives over to the Holy Spirit, there is a strong faith and trust in God, knowing He will provide and take care of us.
3) You can see the same purpose and mission in most others in your church congregation. Coming to Changed Lives Church has given us a family of caring brothers and sisters in Christ who sincerely want to know Jesus and tell everyone they meet about Him. We can honestly say everyone at Changed Lives Church feels just like a family member to us.
4) Most Sundays you seem to get the feeling God is speaking directly to you through your Pastors. This is so true for us each week, and we realize how God uses us all to bless and inspire others.
5) You believe God has orchestrated things perfectly to lead you to your current church. Since coming to Changed Lives Church we have been attending Bible Study each week and learning more about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as just how we should be leading our lives and showing love in all we do every day. We have never learned so much or felt this close to God in any other church we have attended.
We hope this post will help you to find your best home church fit. If you have already found a home church you love, I invite you to share your story in a comment here. We’d also love to hear your thoughts and stories about being Divinely diverted throughout your days. Please comment to share a story and/or subscribe to our blog to continue to read our stories in the weeks to come!
If you are looking for a great church, awesome praise and worship, inspiring sermons from Pastors who are on fire for the Lord, and are or will be in the Southern New Jersey area, please look us up and come for a visit. Here is the website link for our amazing church: