“At Resolve, we don’t think the church is a building or an event, but a group of people following God and resolved to follow Jesus.”
May 5, 2019, 9 AM
This church meets in two spaces at the end of a strip mall, with one entrance for “Resolve kids” and one for every one else. They offer two services, and I show up for the early one. A man who appears to be a greeter says good morning to me, but doesn’t hand me a bulletin. So I proceed into the worship space, which is a dimly lit, carpeted room with a large wooden cross in the front. The five-member praise band stands just in front of the cross, about one step above the main floor. Two screens are anchored on the walls on each side of the stage area. The service starts promptly with the band leader making a few short announcements, saying the bulletins are new, so be sure to get one. This is when I go back to the entrance area and ask the same greeter for a bulletin. He points to the stack of papers lying on the table and tells me to grab one. I go back to stand in front of my padded chair, lined up in rows and columns, and begin singing with the congregation. Surprisingly, this group actually sings. The praise band doesn’t just hold a concert, which is a refreshing change. As we sing the songs, interspersed by the lead singer’s prayers and scripture readings, more and more people fill the room.
Close to one hundred people pack into the small space over the course of the next fifteen minutes. The singing, praying and scripture reading continues and we keep standing through it all. After thirty minutes of this, I feel certain that the praise leader is going to tell us to sit down for “Brother Dan’s” sermon. But no. The singing, praying and scriptures continue, and I feel a little guilty for looking at my phone to see what time it is. It’s been forty-five minutes.
I glance around the room and see some with raised hands and some wiping tears from their eyes. Obviously, this kind of worship is appealing to many. But I’m still waiting for permission to sit down. I was in the military. I know how to stand for long periods of time. But at the hour mark, I finally sit down. I saw a couple others sit too, so I guess it’s okay. Right about then, the praise band leader (still not sure if he’s the pastor or what) instructs the ushers to guide us by rows to come forward for communion.
When my row is signaled, I stand again and walk forward to receive communion. There has been absolutely no liturgy, no mention of the last supper, or that “Jesus broke the bread, gave it to His disciples and said, “take, eat this is my body given for you…” All I heard was a brief mention that Jesus told us to do this in remembrance of Him. And that communion is one of two ordinances he gave his disciples–the other being baptism. Well, I’m not sure how instructive this can be for those who are not familiar with the sacrament, what it commemorates and what it means when we partake of the “body and blood of Christ.” Regardless, I go forward with everyone else.
When I get to the front, I see a bistro sized table on the side of the room, carrying a couple bowls of bread pieces, one is gluten-free. There are two small chalices holding grape juice. I know what to do, but I wonder what someone unfamiliar with intinction would do. Anyway, I dip a piece of bread in the juice before eating it.
I return to the back of the worship space and continue walking out the main doors. It’s been seventy-five minutes since the service started and I can’t tell if the sermon is still coming. I’ve decided not to stay and find out.
Overall, I can see the appeal of this service. It seems to be effective for at least getting people in the door. It certainly became a crowded room, so something is working. However, I keep thinking about Paul’s words to the Corinthians that he had to feed them milk, instead of solid food, for they were not ready for it. Maybe this is the church where milk is served in gallons. Maybe later, the solid food will come.
Anyway, no one greeted me and there wasn’t a greeting time, unless it came after I left. No one asked me my name or even said hello. So, this church FAILED the WELCOME TEST.