1st Time Church Review: Asbury UMC, York, Pennsylvania

For those of you that don’t know – my wife Tyra, our two youngest boys (we have six) and myself have embarked on a year long RV trip to see the United States! We will be working and going to school “online” and experiencing the great history and culture and great lands that God has blessed us with. Each Sunday we will visit a different church and blog about our experience as “first time visitors”.  We will share our experiences to hopefully benefit the church and any church who reads the blog post to learn about positive and negative experiences and how you might address these in your own church.


This week we asked our Facebook friends to help us pick a church to attend. Here are the five choices we have them and asked them to tell which they would most likely visit and which can they would east likely visit. 

Here are the comments we received:

Well we chose to visit Asbury UMC. We felt they had the best website of them all and wanted to see if we would feel as Welcomed as their website led us to believe  

We were not disappointed!

It was a beautiful sanctuary. You know after seeing so many historical places and Memorials in this part of the country it just feels important and worshipful when the sanctuary is made to be something bigger and more special than just a room with a cross or whatever.

Anyway I have to tell you that this was a difficult service for me to sit through. I just found out that Sunday morning that my dear Mrs.  Reyes had passed away. 

Ramon and Laura Reyes are the most faithful, God loving, holy spirit filed people that I have ever known. They are the reason that I am a Christian today. They helped God lay a foundation in me that has made me a husband, father, leader in my church and business owner who always tries to put love first in everything that I do.

Mr. Reyes passed away May 2014. By gods grace I got to see him a couple weeks before he passed. I last visited Mrs. Reyes last summer on a trip with my son Keaton. Her health was not great but she was as vibrant and filled with God’s love has she ever had been.

So anyway I sat through the service mourning the loss of a great saint who helped bring so many people to Christ. 

But I felt loved. I felt hugged. I felt God’s presence through the service. The first hymn we sang was Here I Am Lord. This reminded me of my commitment I made to God to serve him over 27 years ago and it was all due to Ramon and Laura. 

Also learned that the results of a Methodist survey of favorite hymns a few years back ‘Here I Am’ was second only to Amazing Grace. It struck me that the favorite hymn speaks of how Amazing God’s Love is for us and the second one speaks of how we live to return that love through our service. I Love being a Christian and following Jesus’ commandments!

The people at this church were warm. At least 5 people came over and talked to us and asked if we were visiting, etc at the time of ‘Passing the Peace’ and after the service. 

It was a great worship and the people were very welcoming. They had a gift bag ready for us which was the first time that had happened. This want necessary and couldn’t take the place of PEOPLE welcoming us but it was awesome and showed they had planned on us being there!  Like if they had baked us a cake because we were coming for dinner 🙂

If we were living here we may have just found out church 🙂

What I loved here:

  • The signs directing us where to park
  • The Welcome signage at the entrance to the Sanctuary
  • Many people recognized us as potential 1st Timers and welcomed us
  • The gift bag, but note that the gift bag without any warm discussions would have felt “cold”
  • Passing of the Peace – I have always loved this moment during church, even as a kid

What they can improve on

  • When we walked in the main entrance, we didn’t know where to go, so we had to ask.  I would recommend adding signage
  • Add photos of worship in this beautiful sanctuary front and center on the homepage of the website.  Make sure they are photos of worship with a good number of people in the pews (but not full, so there is room for “one more” )

Have any revelations about your Church?  Please email me your thoughts!  patrick@www.churchbuzz.org

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