This morning we attended a church (not in Lititz) with friends of ours who are looking for a church and asked us to attend a few with them to see what our thoughts were on them. They picked a church somewhat close to their home and we attended there with them. When we arrived it became quickly apparent that this particular church had a different slant on the issue of "sign gifts" than I was comfortable with. It wasn't overboard, but it was obvious. As a result, I personally could not be completely comfortable rolling up my sleeves in an ongoing matter with this local body, but I truly did enjoy spending the morning with these believers. Below are a few thoughts I have from the morning:
WORSHIP! The worship was very genuine and very informal. Some people stood while other people sat. Some people were very expressive while some were very reserved. I noticed quickly that several people brought their own instruments - and they weren't on the worship team either. That's why I entitled this posting the B.Y.O.I. (Bring Your Own Instrument) Church. There were several people in the congregation who played their tambourines and one young gal even put her flute together and played along with the songs from her seat. For me personally, the style of the music was not my "cup of tea". In fact, I had never heard most of the songs. Yet, I was able to genuinely worship as I focused on the words to the songs. They were powerful and pointed my focus on God. O how I wish that Christians would understand that worship isn't about the style of the music - it is about reflecting on the truth of who God is. One thing I have learned is that if I can't worship because I don't like the style of the music, the problem isn't really the style or the music - the problem is most likely my heart.
PREACHING! Though I am sure that there are theological areas in which I would disagree with the pastor who has led this particular church for over 40 years, his message this morning was tremendous. He spoke from John 8 on the story of the woman who was caught in adultery and brought to Jesus. He absolutely nailed perfectly the historical and cultural background of the passage and did a terrific job showing how its spiritual truths apply to our lives today. His presentation had to be good because he didn't start preaching until near the end of the service and the service in totality lasted just shy of 2 hours and 15 minutes! Yet, he had my attention the entire time. I was very challenged and encouraged by his message.
FRIENDLINESS! I can honestly say that this was the friendliest church I have ever attended in my entire life - bar none! from the moment we arrived we were greeted on the front steps of the church by the pastor himself and then all the way until the beginning of the service it was person after person after person coming up to us, introducing themselves to us with huge smiles, and making us feel very welcomed. Usually churches have coffee and goodies available prior to the service. This church didn't put out the refreshments until afterwards and even following a 140+minute worship service, most everyone stayed around and ate and continued to share with each other and with us.
So overall, it was a very good Sunday morning. If I ever have the opportunity to go back to this B.Y.O.I. Church again, maybe I'll bring my trumpet with me and play along in my seat!!!!