October 20, 2019, 10 AM
“_______Chapel is a fellowship of believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our greatest desire is to know Christ and be conformed to His image by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
This church began as a Bible study in 1998, which soon turned into a small church. They’ve occupied four different locations and are now settled into what appears to be a former police station or storage center. It’s a long, single story building that’s been converted with a worship space and what seems to be classrooms and fellowship areas. They assert: “We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations, as such. We are opposed only to the emphasis of non-biblical teachings that divide the Body of Christ.”
Apparently they believe their Biblical teachings will not divide the Body of Christ. Historically, however, Biblical interpretation has always been a source of friction and divisiveness. So, I’m not sure what they actually mean by Biblical teachings…perhaps their interpretation of the Bible is not divisive, which signals to me that one may not be encouraged to debate the scriptures in this church.
When I arrived at 955 AM, the two men at the door welcomed me and handed me a bulletin. I sat in the last seat on the rear row, close to the entrance/exit. The church only had windows on the front of the building, which was the back of the chapel area. It was a nicely lit, well-groomed space. Several people came over and introduced themselves. One woman, Thelma, spoke with me at length asking where I was from, what brought me here today, etc.
The service began as we stood and sang about 3-4 songs, led by two guitarists, a drummer and two vocalists. The words of the songs were projected onto the two facing walls on either side of the altar area. After singing, the pastor said an opening prayer and instructed us to greet one another. Several more folks greeted me but it wasn’t a drawn out mingling time, which I appreciated. The pastor made a few announcements, then we sang another song or two. The pastor returned to the lectern and announced that the assistant pastor would bring the message today. The man who had been the drummer came forward to speak.
He was an engaging and delightful speaker. You could tell he had notes and followed them loosely. He seemed to mostly talk “off the cuff,” and he was passionate about what the Lord has done in his life. His words didn’t exclude anyone (gays/lesbians/democrats) which pleased me. He seemed to be saying one thing over and over: Jesus loves you and will accept you as you are. I found his presentation to be genuine and relatable. However, he went a little too long. I could feel the congregation stirring after about forty minutes. He finally ended at about an hour, which was a good fifteen to twenty minutes too long. (IMHO) Nothing ruins a good sermon like going too long.
The pastor repeated a few announcements and invited anyone to come forward during the closing songs. We stood to sing another song or two, but since it was now almost two hours since worship began, I ducked out. (I saw others had left before me, so I didn’t feel guilty.) The pastor grabbed me before I could leave and introduced himself and welcomed me again. He said he hoped I’d come back.
This church was both welcoming and seemingly non-judgmental. It lacked much of the traditional elements of worship like, responsive readings, reciting creeds, The Lord’s Prayer, etc. They didn’t even take up an offering. Later, I noticed that the bulletin mentioned an “offering box is available on the back table for your worship through giving.” I just happen to think that worship should always include our offerings, which is biblically based by the way.
Regardless of the informality, this church seemed healthy, happy and certainly welcoming. They PASSED the WELCOME TEST.