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1,000 Valley faithful flock to mall, former bar for church

Published: Mon, February 3, 2014 @ 12:10 a.m.


Pastor Doug Garasic speaks to the crowd Saturday evening during a service at The Movement in Niles.

By Ed Runyan



Twenty-nine-year-old Warren native Doug Garasic and his wife, Stephanie, started their church, called The Movement, 2 1/2 years ago in a conference room of an office building in Vienna with 14 people.

It’s grown to 1,000 people attending at The Movement’s primary location at the back of the Eastwood Mall and in its newest location in a former bar on East Market Street near downtown Warren.

What is the appeal?

Garasic says he thinks it’s that The Movement provides people with a place where they can “just really enjoy a fellowship or a community of people” while taking time to figure out what they believe about God.

He said getting to a point of knowing what you believe should be a “marathon, not a sprint.”

“We believe that people should belong before they ever believe. And then, after they believe, they will start becoming that thing,” Garasic said.

The Movement is inviting to people in their thirties, twenties and younger because the experience is more like the Grammy Awards — musically, for instance — than a traditional church service, Garasic said during an interview last week.

It consists of 20 minutes of preaching, 20 minutes of music, and encouragement for participants to spend time thinking and studying the Bible on their own.

“We say our service — we call them worship experiences — are the appetizer for you to want the main course.”

The Movement avoids offending people by not taking a stand on “polarizing political subjects,” with Garasic saying, “Why was it the church’s responsibility to ever have a stand on that?”

Young adults need something different because they have their own concept of religion, Garasic said.

“Church comes across as not relevant any longer to our generation. Either they saw hypocriticalness in their parents or they saw that you just go because you have to.

“In my generation, it’s called the Y Generation for a reason. We ask the question why. Why do I have to do this? Why do I have to go do that? So what we’re doing is we’re answering the Y. We’re saying Jesus is relevant, and here’s why.”

He adds, “I want you to evaluate the claims of Christ for yourself and say ‘Do I follow him or reject him? And that could take months, years, I don’t know. I’m not here to judge your journey. I’m only here to encourage you to make that decision.”

Garasic says it’s not unusual for younger people to lead their parents to follow them into The Movement. “That’s like backwards to what we think in our society, but it’s happening here all the time.”

Surveys indicate that nearly half of the people coming to The Movement have never been members of any church.

“In the ’80s and early ’90s, it wasn’t if you went to church, it was where you went to church. That is no longer the case. We’ve let an entire generation be raised not at all involved in church.

“If we’re going to reach people who have never been reached before, we have to be willing to do things that have never been done before. That’s why we have a church in a mall. That’s why we put a church in a bar. That’s why our services feel more like a rock show with a tiny little message more than a long, drawn out, religious, boring church service,” Garasic said.

The services in Warren occur in the former Sunset Lounge on East Market Street. The bar closed after a rocky history, including a New Year’s Day shooting death in 2013.

Greg Lenox of Warren, 38, who was partipating in the 11:30 a.m. service at the Warren location Sunday, said The Movement is in Warren because Warren “needs it,” explaining that the focus is on “loving on people,” helping neighbors and not about the type of clothing they wear.

Garasic says his upbringing in a poor neighborhood in Warren has something to do with his religious views.

He was raised by a single mom and didn’t attend church, got into trouble and was kicked out of Warren G. Harding High School. He finished his education at Victory Christian School on Pleasant Valley Road in Niles, where he was introduced to the Gospel.

“It changed my life, so that’s why I get people who have troubles, that have issues, that have problems, because I was one of them.”

He spent five years as youth minister at Pleasant Valley Church at the same location as the school, then went with his wife to Columbus as youth minister at a “megachurch.”

Offers for jobs at other megachurches in the southern United States rolled in, but he and Stephanie chose to focus their efforts back home.

The Movement is not done growing, Garasic said, with plans for creating three more campuses in 2014. The Movement also has a college where it trains ministers.

“We say we’re Dairy Queen. We serve vanilla, caramel and chocolate,” Garasic said of the people attending The Movement.

“We’ve got a lot of different kind of people. They all look different. Some are business professionals, doctors, lawyers. Others are kids 19, 20 with a tattoo on every inch of their body.”


1mouse(112 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

you make it sound like your movement is the only way & that other churches are just boring. any church that preaches the gospel (truth) is God's church.
remember there were those who wouldn't even listen to Jesus. isn't that why they crucified Him (our Lord)

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2thirtyninedollars(604 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago


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3fiesty1185(1 comment)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I've attended the movement since August after not attending anywhere in at least 5 years. I'll admit I was very skeptical at first due to bad experiences in the past. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. My husband and I have never felt so at home with any church as we have here. We love our movement!!

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4anthonymarsh90(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

TheMovement is an amazing church! Before I attended this church I was an atheist who had a reputation as a drug dealer and had even been to prison a couple of times. Going to this church I realized that not every church is phony. That was my premisconception that made me an atheist. I realized that not everyone who goes to church is a lunatic, some people really desire to live their life to glorify Jesus by loving God and loving others.

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5Domdvr(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

This church, social community is very confusing to me. First they say, "forget religion find God" yet explain themselves as a church associated with Christianity. Christianity in its general non denominational sense IS a religion. I am opposed to Garasic hurting other members churches of the body of Christ. What it sounds like he is saying is to forget all the denominational churches and ONLY attend his. Jesus did not die for us to worship him with rock music or "Grammys" feel. I give him kudos for reaching out to the lost, but he is very much confused as to what Christianity is. Jesus was not politically correct as he walked this earth. We are called to be salt and light here and now! There still are absolutes that we as Christians have a moral obligation to stand up against and to speak out. Every Christian should consider abortion as murder. If not then serious discernment and prayer are needed. It's as of he promotes lukewarmness.

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6anthonymarsh90(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Its people like domdvr ^ that made me an atheist. Say they love Jesus but hate on anyone who doesn't love Jesus their way. The Bible says pure and genuine religion is taking care of widows and orphans not speaking out about how u personally interpretGods stand on abortion- one of billions of Gods concerns. U cant cange people buddy but God can so instead of making God look repulsive u could learn from Garasic

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7Domdvr(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

@anthony the hate began when their promotion stated " forget religion find God." this is hate towards other members of the body of Christ including Methodists, Baptists, Catholics etc. it continued when they described denominational services as "boring." his ideaology is offensive to anyone who is a member of any Christian denominational church. He is promoting this ideology that religion in a denominational sense, is irrelevant in today's society. The church and its' political stands (with which he brought up) comes with the Christian territory. It IS the NARROW WAY. The church is supposed to be set apart from the world. Standing and holding firm to the truths of absolutes according to Jesus. Abortion is just one example that I chose but there are many more that as Christians we called to protect, defend and stand for or against. To love and serve one another not tear down members of the same body!!,

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8DSquared(1778 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I guess if you never had any standards to live by, then this is better than nothing. Good Luck. I hope you get your stuff together. The clock's ticking!

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93ski(1 comment)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

My family and I have been going there for a little over a year now. Their motto" forget religion and find God" points people to seek God and find a relationship with Christ instead of focusing on religious denominations! Let me tell you, I have been more excited to be in the Word and Prayer more this year than every before. God is stretching my faith and causing me to step out of my comfort zone to be obedient to God's calling. Thank you to the leaders at The Movement for your unending hours of service and prayer to continue to reach the unchurched of our valley!

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10birdman(6 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

While other area church's seek out the un-churched, the movement survives by pulling people from other church's. In fact this church started by gathering people from his former church and convincing them to leave and follow him to start a new one. Lots of loud music, not much teaching.

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11therealdeal(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Its so funny you can tell by these comments who has actually been there and who are just player haters people always hate when you do big things

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12nodivide(4 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

On the website for the Movement, they say this to back up their "forget religion" slogan:
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27
If God’s definition of religion is to help those in need and don’t become worldly, then why in the world are we advising you to forget religion? Because, the world has corrupted religion, and we are leading a movement back to God’s definition."

So, the Movement, seems to be suggesting here that the other Christian denominations and religions have somehow "missed the boat" when it comes to caring for orphans and widows and that they have all let the world corrupt them except for the people at the Movement? They don't seem to realize that when they say "forget religion" but then say that they are somehow exempt from all that "badness" in other churches, they are judging all others by that statement. I don't have the exact stats to post here, but historically and even today, the Catholic Church has had the most impact when it comes to caring for orphans and widows and all-around charity for that matter.... I mean, look at who created the first hospitals, educational systems, adoption agencies, right to life clinics, scientific method, etc. We, as Christians need to stop saying "all others are doing it wrong but me" and instead say, "if one part of the body does good, the entire body reaps the benefit ...and if one part is suffering, the entire body suffers". If the Movement is helping atheists to believe in Jesus, then all Christians and humanity benefit from that, but they should not then be turning around and bashing the rest of Christianity as being corrupted and bad with a slogan like "forget religion".... because that is only hurting the entire body of Christ. By trying to convince existing Christians to leave their denominations and join the Movement instead because it is somehow exempt from any corruption, they are misleading people for one thing and are causing more division in the Body of Christ. Trying to imply that one part of the body is more important than another goes against scripture... and this slogan does exactly that. It is dividing rather than unifying us as Christians.

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13kmarshall13(1 comment)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

My husband and I have been attending The Movement for over a year and it has been the most wonderful church we've ever gone to. We love the people who attend and serve and have found them to be like family. The children and kids ministry is amazing and we love knowing that our son will grow up with other children learning to love Jesus. I strongly suggest checking this church out if you don't have a church family and are looking to truely have an encounter with God. The Movement is the real deal and God is using this church to accomplish amazing things in this valley!

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14therealdeal(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Really good point @repubs4therich !!!

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15nodivide(4 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

@repubs4therich: Sure I agree, getting more connected to God is what I imagine all God-believing churches aim to do! I never was a member of a church that shunned anyone for how they dressed or looked, so I can not relate to that. But the point here is that, Jesus never promised following him would be fun, entertaining and make us get all warm and fuzzy inside.... to the contrary, he tells us it will be hard and we will suffer because of it. Jesus teaches us how to love more deeply in a sacrificial type of love (agape) to go outside of ourselves and work for the good of others instead of looking for our own satisfaction. Certainly a rock concert that honors Jesus can be good and uplifting for any Christian on occasion, but is the Movement really a church or is it more of a pep rally? I mean, did Jesus or the apostles ever try to "entice" people to follow them by using modern music, entertainment and fun things to do? Scripture does not suggest so. Did Jesus come to get rid of all those boring old rules that the Jews had been adhering to? No, he "did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it" as scripture tells us.
Being one of those older people as some have mentioned, there is something I would like to ask young Christians (the "Y" generation) to think about: regardless of what church you belong to, please get past this thing about needing to be entertained and being catered to... following Jesus should not be dependent upon your own satisfaction, having fun or being entertained.... it should be focused instead on honoring God, giving ourselves to Him in total self-sacrifice, and building up the body of Christ... not by putting down other Christian denominations in the process or by trying to "save" someone who is already a Christian.

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16nodivide(4 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Repubs4theRich: Yes, I am very sensitive, because I care about preserving the church that Jesus established over 2000 years ago which is the universal christian church. What you don't know is that the people at the Movement have already previously told me that they consider the word "religion" in their slogan to refer to the "established, mainstream" churches and my church happens to be one of those, and so yes, I am offended by their slogan very much and think it is very harmful to the body of Christ. By telling people to forget mainstream, established Christian religions, they are telling people to forget the church Jesus established. Here is a link to a video that explains it better than I can:

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17nodivide(4 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Repubs4theRich: Thanks for your well wishes. I agree... it is good to find new ways to connect to God, but let's not "forget", condemn or try to turn people away from the old ways that have served so well to preserve Christianity though out the ages!

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