In the spirit of continuing the search, I went to a church yesterday that was about fifteen minutes away from my house. My first impression of this church was “big.” The parking lot was massive, the steeple was too high for me to see, the entrance steps were large and numerous—basically, I felt like Bilbo trekking around Middle Earth just to find the front door. Of course, I was much more impressive than ol’ Bilbo because I was doing all of my trekking in heels. Take that, ya hobbit! Wait, how did I get to the land of the nerds? At any rate, the church was very large.
My second impression of the church was “traditional.” It always amazes me how you can feel the tone of the church in the first five minutes of the service. Being a large church, they kicked off the service with a couple of musical snacks (a trio singing harmoniously, the orchestra playing—you know, the usual). The main worship service was a mixed bag for me. They had a worship band that was very good and had the entire massive choir to sing behind them. I liked this arrangement because they were getting the contemporary worship songs in without making it a performance. You could tell they were genuine in their worship and didn’t want the focus to be on any one person. That is hard to maintain, so I was impressed with that.
However I felt as though I was the only one singing in the audience. It was very strange to feel like that when there are a thousand other people in the pews around me. I don’t know if it was the weird way that sound moved in the sanctuary or if my ears weren’t working. Or maybe the people standing around me weren’t singing, which would be disappointing. Regardless of the cause, I had trouble getting into the worship because I was so distracted by being the only voice around me.
As far as the message went, I really enjoyed the main pastor. He used a lot of Scripture and really dug into a well-known verse and helped me see the context of it, which shifted what I thought it meant. His preaching style reminded me of my dad’s, so that is a sizable plus in his column. I loved every minute of his sermon, so I was really pleased in that aspect.
The dreaded hand-shaking time was fairly painless, but pretty stilted. The people around me that shook my hand were kind, but not outgoing or exuberant in any way. I feel harsh evaluating the ‘friendliness’ level of a church based on one morning worship service. After all, I’m not always outgoing enough to strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger. Some Sundays I’m annoyed or ill and want no part in going out of my way for any reason. These are my shame days, because I always regret how awfully I acted. So leaving room for bad days, I got the impression that the church may be in a transition period where they’re recently learning how to show the love of Jesus to outsiders.
Bottom line, the church was very genuine in their intent but slightly inhibited in their execution. This hobbit is continuing her pilgrimage.
Margaret, The Rope Editor