Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Not Going To Like This Church

Last Sunday we attended a church that was part of a denomination in which, to be honest, I had never experienced a Sunday worship service in prior to that. Now to be even more honest I will tell you that as I drove to the church to meet some friends of ours there, I didn't have "high hopes" that I was going to enjoy it much. How sad it is that we often make up our minds on someone or something due to pre-conceived labels we put on them. To my surprise and delight, just the opposite took place. It was a wonderful morning of worship. Let me summarize some of the aspects of the morning:

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: From the moment we entered the doors there was a very friendly atmosphere in the church. Several people took the time to greet us and introduce themselves to us. The auditorium was brightly lit and inviting and as I looked around I noticed a remarkable balance, as the auditorium filled, of young couples and senior saints. They even gave out free mints as you entered - I took two mints (you know that philosophy, if it's free - take two)!! And afterwards we were approached by many people (again from young couples to senior saints) thanking us for attending and expressing a desire for us to return. They also each spoke very positively about their pastor and their church. It was obvious that these people loved their church.

WORSHIP: The worship that morning was what they would call "blended." However, their definition of "blended" was a very clear dichotomy. There was one segment of modern praise songs that were very good, yet still done in more of a traditional style. Then, later in the service there was another time of singing that was right out of the hymn book. Though my preference would have been for a bit more energy in their worship time, let me stress that I do not believe that style is the main issue when it comes to effective worship. Worship isn't about STYLE it is about TRUTH. That is why I believe that we should never make our style preference an issue. For example, I do not like country music. However, if I were attending a church that had as a worship style nothing but that dreadful country "twang", I could still very much worship as long as the songs were pointing my mind and heart to truth about God. On this Sunday they also had a couple different kid's groups singing as well. You can never go wrong when you put the little ones up front!

PREACHING: The pastor was a very decent communicator. He preached from 2 Corinthians 12 on "The Right Reasons to be in Ministry." Though there was a lot more depth that could have been drawn from the passage he used, his points were very biblical and very practical. I appreciated and was both encouraged and challenged by his message. He also included a good amount of effective illustrations and humor. He also made it very clear several times that salvation came only from personal faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus!

SPECIAL ASPECT: At one point in the service they had an "Anointing Service" for an individual who was facing an 8-hour surgery that week for cancer. The pastor did a wonderful job of explaining and practicing this special time of confession, anointing and prayer as seen in James. 5. I have conducted many anointing services in my ministry, but always in private. It was very refreshing to see this done publicly in front of the church.

But again I go back to this "label game" that we play. The Sunday prior I attended a church that was part of a denomination I would have put my "stamp of approval" on and my wife and I were both very disappointed (go back and read my blog, "Unwanted in Church" from last week for the specifics). This past Sunday I was truly blessed by attending a church that I would have typically avoided because of its "label." Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that all labels are bad. I am simply saying that maybe I (and perhaps you) need to be a little less quick to draw lines and write people off based solely on our pre-conceived "labels." Give it some thought.

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