Thursday, May 28, 2009

Judge not lest ye be judged...

Hello friends. It has been a few weeks since my last post. Typical.
I've decided to begin reviewing the churches that my family visits in the area west of Cleveland. People keep asking me about our church hunt and I have found myself describing our first church visit over and over again. So, from now on the description and review will be able to be found here on my blog. For church name and location, please email me. I've decided to leave that info out for the sake of some of the congregations. Like the title of this blog? I thought it was right for the start of my church reviews. I want for all to know that this is not a chance for me to judge whether or not a church is a good one or a bad one, but what I see as the pros and cons of each church.
Some major things I am looking for are:
How visitor friendly is this church?
How does the church compare with how it's website describes it?
What did the theological standpoints appear to be?
What is the children's ministry like?
What is the young adult's ministry like?
I'm sure that I won't always answer each question and that there will be other things observed. Enjoy.

Several weeks ago, Chris, Bobbi, David, Lilly, and I set out for our first church visit. Chris searched around online on Saturday night and found one that looked interesting. The website made it look exciting and young. One review called it a mega-church. We thought it would be fun to see what this was all about. The website assured us that we would be greeted by a welcome team and made to feel very comfortable in the church.
We decided to arrive early so that we could check things out. Good thing we did!!! We drove around the church looking for the correct entrance to go in. (We weren't sure, so we just picked a door and went for it.) We ended up going in the right way, but there was no one there to greet us. We were looking for the children's area. We looked at maps, tried to follow families, peered into rooms, walked in circles, and finally found it. As we were walking around looking completely lost and confused, no one offered to help us. Anyways, the children's wing was completely secured by a counter with a person working at it. We had to fill out detailed paperwork for both kids and were given security tags. The tag had a number on it so that if we were needed during the service, the child's number would pop up on the screen and we could go get them. Thankfully their numbers didn't pop up. :) I appreciated the tight security and was pleased with the amount of children's classes and the friendly teachers.
The worship service. It was a pretty basic contemporary style. We started out with singing several praise songs. Surprisingly, I only knew one of them. Chris knew more because they play on his satellite radio station. The band was decent. I thought they needed a female voice in their all-male show. There was an offering and then a message, then more singing. The pastor gave the message and he was a dynamic speaker. I enjoyed listening to him. Halfway through the sermon, he played a canned song while a slideshow played on the screens. I liked that.
The man who gave announcements invited visitors to an open house in a back room. We thought we should go. First, we picked up the kiddos who had a blast in their classes, then went looking for the open house room. We couldn't find it. This time, we asked for help and someone directed us in the right way. When we found it, there were 2 visitors talking to someone and then the visitors left. We went in to the small parlor-looking room and a nice man welcomed us and introduced himself. He gave us little visitor bags with church info, coupons, and bottled water. We had a nice chat with him and then one of the pastors came in to greet us. He was young and very nice.
So, from the website and observation, I don't think that there are any women on the pastoral staff. The message seemed highly evangelical. I have heard rumor, which may or may not be true that the the school attached to the church has been exclusive in the type of people it takes. But, haven't most churches/schools at one time been exclusive?
I would not have called it a mega-church. It was much smaller than other mega-churches I have visited, but it had the same type of set-up.
I didn't agree with everything that was preached, but that didn't bother me. I'm used to it. The hardest part of the morning was when the service started and people started singing and I looked around and missed my home.

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