CHURCH VISIT # 4:
Last Sunday (20 Aug 06) we attended what we think is probably the largest church in our area. It is in the vein of the so-called "megachurch" model, although it is not technically a megachurch (less than 2,000 regular attenders). They have two services each Sunday that are probably around 300-350 each. Big church for our neighborhood, but not a bona fide "megachurch." I suspect they may be just as happy not to be "tarred" with that brush (aha! another entry I need to make - the megachurch phenomenon).
They are meeting in a semi-permanent "big top" tent. The seating is white plastic yard chairs with arms. Comfy! We were greeted on the way into the parking lot by attendants who showed us where to park and where to go after we park. There were several "ministry" tents in the common area outside the main tent. I went to the "Sunday morning" tent to get bulletins, introduced myself to the "Head Usher" who directed me to the "Welcome" tent for a packet of information about the church and its ministries. While I was at the "Welcome" tent, the "Head Greeter" came and introduced himself to me, calling me by name because the Head Usher had told him about me. "Bill" introduced me to several other people, including the Discipleship Pastor, all of whom welcomed me very warmly.
We truly enjoyed the service. It was basically 45 minutes of music and 45 minutes of preaching. All of it was excellent, worshipful, biblical, challenging. Informal, modern, but not the full-on "seeker sensitive" model. In other words, they did not mess with the language of the gospel to try to "appeal to the unchurched." The lead worshiper took us through a series of songs, interjecting scripture, prayer and exhortation, that took us to the throne of God to lay ourselves before Him in surrender (even including the chorus of the hymn "I Surrender All"). Then the preacher spoke unequivocally about true, daily discipleship. Yes, he used language that was clear, enjoyable, modern, accessible; he included humor and creative visual aids; and there was a helpful outline in the bulletin. But the gospel came through loud and clear; and the challenge to live a fully surrendered life empowered moment by moment by the Holy Spirit was the bottom line.
There was no invitation, but we have done some pondering about that, and I am going to address that issue in a separate entry.
I look forward to going back to this church for another visit, possibly eventually to attend and serve. As of now, I would put it at the top of our list of potential "home churches."
As a bit of a side note, their "welcome letter" arrived Wednesday; faster than any of the previous churches letters have arrived at our home.