Monday, October 23, 2006


(Church visit # 13 took place on 22 October 2006)

This past Sunday we visited a church that we have visited before - about 14 years ago! It is not substantially changed. The most noticeable difference is the addition of an "early, contemporary" service. Like many other churches, this church offers separate "contemporary" and "traditional" services.

I should probably address the issue in a separate entry, but basically I believe that having two services that have different musical offerings is ill-advised. I believe it unnecessarily divides the congregants. I fully understand all of the standard justifications for setting up two services in this way. I just happen to feel, strongly, that it highlights a superficial controversy regarding musical style; and I think that is a bad idea.

OK. Back to this specific church.

The service we attended at first looked like it was not going to be very well attended. There were about 20 people, including the leaders and sound techs, present at the scheduled starting time. However, by the time the 15 minutes of music was over, there were more than 50 people present.

The music was very well done. Good selection, well led, well sung, well played. The "leader" sat at keyboard in the center of the platform; she was accompanied by a bass player, a guitarist (amp'd acoustic) and a drummer. No extra singers on mic. At the risk of sounding picky, I will note here that the congregation seemed not too familiar with the songs, and they did not exhibit much enthusiasm. Also, the songs - although I personally thought it was a "good selection" - the songs were not what I would call "accessible" to the congregants. In other words, the average musical ability would be likely to have trouble finding and singing along with the melody. Some songs seem to flow naturally from one syllable to the next. Others are not so predictable. We can debate the benefits of "predictability" some other time; but in general it is tough for average folk learning a new song to get a true sense of worship if they are struggling with a melody. The lyrics were awesome, of course.

The church happens to be in the midst of its annual missions emphasis, so the speaker on this day was a visiting missionary. He brought a good, thought-provoking message. It examined the issue of cultural diversity from a biblical perspective. It was not a "gospel" message, though.

The service was closed with a rather abrupt dismissal. No benediction. No closing prayer.

The people were warm and friendly.

All in all, we enjoyed the service. We want to go back some time and hear the pastor preach, though.

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