“Christ, Compassion, Community.”
October 6, 2019, 11 AM
The first thing I notice is the neatly appointed building and manicured grounds. This congregation really cares about their structure and landscaping, and it shows. Since the property is always someone’s first impression, I’m instantly feeling good about this church.
I’m even more impressed when I walk in the doors and someone immediately recognizes that I’m a newcomer. As I’m looking around, a man asks, “what do you need?” I reply, “the bathroom,” and he points me in the right direction. When I come back to the main hallway a greeter hands me a bulletin and a packet of salt. She asks if this is my first time here. I say yes and she runs to retrieve a visitor’s goodie bag for me. She introduces herself and welcomes me. I enter the sanctuary and sit in the back, right side pew. Another three people come over to introduce themselves and welcome me.
The sanctuary keeps filling while we stand and sing three songs. There are five lead singers up front with microphones, which helps the rest of us with the singing. My only complaint here is the canned music, piped into the room through the speakers. Since they have five live singers, my guess is they probably have a musician or two who could help with the instrumental part. One guitar even, would feel more authentic than the taped version. If they could get a keyboard and a tambourine, even better. Anything live is better than pre-recorded stuff, IMHO (in my humble opinion.)
The sanctuary is also neatly decorated with fall flowers and corn stalks. Obviously, someone or a few someones pay attention to the visuals. I only wish there were windows in the sanctuary. The six skylights help, but I always feel a little trapped in a room without windows. And their lighting is not bright enough to compensate for the loss of natural light.
After the opening songs, we go right into the offering and prayer time. Some go forward to kneel at the communion rail for the latter part. One of the singers leads the prayer.
After a short “pastor appreciation” moment, where he comes forward with his family and receives a basket of gifts, the pastor begins the sermon time. It’s about 1130, right on time, I think.
He preaches an engaging sermon using several bullet points showing up on the screen behind him. He is relatable, he uses notes but doesn’t seem to read, he uses examples which illustrate his points. He highlights the attributes of SALT–preserves, flavors, heals and penetrates. As disciples, we are to be salty people-the salt of the earth to others. Overall, well done.
At the end, he asks everyone to stand and exchange salt packets with at least three people, saying, “Love, forgiveness and friendship.” I exchange my three with the folks sitting near me. Then, another two or three people come over to me to exchange again. So, I covered my bases twice.
Then we entered communion time. The pastor read a passage from Corinthians explaining why we take communion. It was enough to roughly describe what and why we’re doing this thing. But I always long for a little more liturgy. No creed, no Lord’s Prayer, no prayer of thanksgiving, no confession and pardon, no Doxology, no Gloria Patri. Oh well, just not their thing I guess.
The pastor instructs us all to come forward, receieve the cracker and the cup, then go back to our seats where we will all partake together. Since I’m at the back, I am one of the last ones to go forward. But when I get to the back, I sneak my cracker and juice and exit out the back door. It was already 1220 and I was supposed to meet my husband at noon.
Overall, I like this church. I would want to add more liturgy and live music. But the appearance of the facility and the friendliness of the congregation makes this church PASS the WELCOME TEST.