Seeking a new path?

People choose a church for a number of reasons 

By Paula Newman

For some, including Catholics, the church’s denomination matters first and foremost. But for nearly all churchgoers, it’s a matter of where they feel most welcome and spiritually inspired. 

The Rev. Phillip Rogers, who was pastor of Riverview’s Baptist Legacy Church until a recent move to Lansing, said he learned many years ago in school at Southwestern Seminary in Texas, where he earned a master’s degree in theology, that the affability of people who attend a church — having a friendly congregation — is one of the main reasons people choose a place of worship. 

“Our church is a warm and loving church,” states Riverview United Methodist Church on its website, “and we want you to feel comfortable and at liberty to call on us for anything you need. When you visit our church, you will find a caring congregation that will gladly welcome you, preaching/teaching that is centered on the Word of God, and ministries to meet the spiritual needs of every age.” 

A welcoming congregation is among the most important things people seek in a church, according to a recent Pew Research study. 

“If a Catholic was to come to Wyandotte, they would look for a church that fulfilled their spiritual needs,” said the Rev. Mark Borkowski, pastor of Our Lady of the Scapular in Wyandotte, which serves the communities of St. Helena, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Stanislaus Kostka. “People worship differently.” 

He would advise that Catholic newcomer to visit all of the area’s Catholic churches to see where they find the right fit. 

In his church as in many others, someone “new in the pew” is noticed. And that person is made to feel welcome. 

Grace Missionary Baptist Church of Wyandotte tells potential churchgoers via its website, “You will find a warm handshake and welcome when you attend our services. You also will find a source of strength, comfort and a peace that comes from being with God and His people. We have great music and singing of praises with friendly, caring, born-again folks.” 

“I think the No. 1 thing people are looking for is community,” said the Rev. Phillip Dinwiddie, rector of St. James Episcopal Church of Grosse Ile. “They want a place where they’ll be remembered and feel like they have something to contribute.” 

Of course, the pastor — if he or she is “charismatic and a good preacher” — also is key, Rogers said 

Dinwiddie agreed. 

“People care about the priest and the sermon, and if they get a feeling like that connects,” he said. 

The Pew Research study said the “primacy of the pulpit,” the quality of sermons, is a top reason its respondents said was why they decided on a certain church to attend. 

Traditions or modernity — the style of worship services — matter to churchgoers, too, according to the study. 

Nondenominational Christian Metro City Church in Riverview, which also has a campus in Taylor, has a modern approach that fills needs for many people. 

“Metro is designed for individuals and families who like life with a little more spice,” the church’s sophisticated website states. “This isn’t your grandma’s church. We like our music modern and a bit loud and we don’t want a church that’s boring, irrelevant and leaves us feeling as empty as when we came in. We want a place where we can experience God. A place that moves our minds and hearts, our intellect and emotions.” 

The opposite worship style is true of Mt. Carmel in Wyandotte. 

Borkowski said his church has a strong ethnic Polish background and very traditional worship. 

“We also have many people here who aren’t Polish, but still feel rather comfortable,” he said. 

At Mt. Carmel, that traditional worship style is very important to its parishioners, he said. 

“People seem to be looking for more traditional things in many different aspects of their lives,” Borkowski said. “It is something that reminds them of their own past of the past in general. They take comfort in the good things they remember from the past, and it is something that reminds them of their own traditions and their history. I think this is the headquarters in the Downriver area for the Catholic traditionalists.” 

Dinwiddie said St. James is more of a place for people who appreciate traditional approaches to worship combined with a lively fellowship and outgoing programs and missions, as well. 

“There are people looking for something sacred, that’s not like the rest of society, a space that feels different,” he said. “Our church will appeal somewhat to that.” 

And for many families, a church’s programs for children are key elements when it comes to choosing a place to join for worship. The education a church offers children was another key factor the research study found. 

Programs for youth and children are main elements in the appeal of a particular church, Rogers said, adding that the actual physical presence of a church, its architecture and décor, matter to some people, too. 

“Children’s ministries are extremely important,” Dinwiddie said. “People want a place where their children can be safe and nurtured.” 

Grosse Ile Presbyterian Church offers many programs and missions for men and women, youth and children. 

“Children of all ages are welcome in worship,” the church’s website states. “We believe children learn about Christ through church involvement.” 

At one weekly worship service, the church includes a “Moment with the Children” as a regular feature, and “children’s worship bags” with crayons, paper and activity booklets are available outside the sanctuary. 

LIST OF RIVERVIEW CHURCHES

Bible Baptist Church 
13950 Sibley Road 
Riverview, MI 48193 
(734) 285-2700 

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 
18701 Grange 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734 285-3544 

Community of Christ 
14601 Pennsylvania Road 
Riverview, MI 48193 
(734) 282-4677 

First Baptist Church of Riverview 
18050 Quarry 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-283-3640 

Immanuel Baptist Church 
17111 Fort St. 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-282-5005 

Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church 
17125 Fordline 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-284-6490 

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses 

18755 Civic Park Drive 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-285-8150 

Living Faith Chapel 
13950 Sibley Road 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-283-0548 

Riverview Church of Christ 
15865 Pennsylvania Road 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-284-0909 

Riverview Church of God 
15633 Pennsylvania Road 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-284-4567 

Riverview United Methodist Church 
13199 Colvin 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-284-2721

St. Cyprian Catholic Church 
13249 Pennsylvania Road 
Riverview, MI 48193 
734-283-1366

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