February 23, 2019, 1045 AM
Nothing specific for visitors on the website, but they make it very clear they are a Bible centric church. This was also apparent when I saw almost everyone carrying a Bible with them into the church. Honestly, after visiting several churches where there’s not even a mention of the Bible, I found this refreshing.
I was greeted by an elderly gentlemen who handed me a bulletin and simultaneously leaned in to hug me. He actually kissed my cheek. Now, this felt very “grandfatherly” to me and I saw that he did it to everyone who entered, so I was not upset by it. However, I suppose there might be persons who are terribly uncomfortable with this kind of greeting. He’s probably one of the “ancient and honorable” members of the church who’s been doing this so long, no one even thinks twice about it. They just figure, “oh, that’s just Uncle Joe letting everyone know he loves them.” But at some point, Uncle Joe probably needs to be told to ask permission first or to be wary of kissing newcomers.
The service started on time with announcements from the Pastor, which is exactly where they should be, in my humble opinion (IMHO). With those out of the way, we are ready to worship without interruption. We sang several hymns, the pastor lead a long prayer for individuals, the government, the senior citizens and youth of the church. His prayer for the nation did not show any political bias one way or another, which I appreciated.
Then, about 1115 am, the pastor stood for the sermon. He was finishing a series on Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper. We focused on the part about the world not knowing God, but Jesus has made God known to his disciples. He gave an example of visiting Atlantic City last week–the gambling, the drug addicts, the homeless–the world that does not know God. I had just attended an Arena Hockey Game the night before. I witnessed drunken hoards shouting obscenities, people staggering and throwing up, the subway filled with homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill. Yes, the world is a broken place. Anyone who does not see that has to be blind or sheltered. His sermon reminded us that God’s light is not visible to everyone yet. But one, day, we shall see Him face to face. He focused mainly on our eternal life in Christ, which I believe in. But I wish he could have focused more about how we can be the light to this broken world now. The best part of the sermon was a video reading of The Father’s Love Letter, (see above) which showcases all the scriptures that speak of God’s love for us.
Overall, his talk went at least 45 minutes. I realize the emphasis in this church is the Bible, but IMHO, the sermon could’ve gone from good to great with fifteen minutes shaved off. No children’s time, no Lord’s Prayer, no offering, no Doxology, no Apostles’ Creed or other statement of faith was included in the service. It seems that the priority of the Pastor’s sermon might be overshadowing other important acts of worship.
Now, to the welcoming part. At the end of the service, one woman came and welcomed me. Her name was Marybeth. When I left the service, the old gentlemen greeter gave me another kiss on the cheek. Oy vey. Anyway, with no other mention of visitors, or meet and greet time or any other interaction with others, this church FAILED the WELCOME TEST.