“Nazarenes believe that God calls Christians to a life of holy living that is marked by an act of God, cleansing the heart from original sin and filling the individual with love for God and humankind.”
March 24, 2019, 11 AM
This church didn’t have its own website, but I found the time of the church service from its Facebook page. The only way to learn about the Nazarene church is through the larger church website, which says they emphasize holiness and missions.
The church seemed a little run down, like maybe funding had been tight for outside maintenance. But once inside, almost everyone seemed to greet me. Beth, Karen, Nancy and then Pastor Dawn all introduced themselves and spoke with me for a few minutes. Nancy even asked me to come sit with her across the aisle, “so I wouldn’t be alone” on the second to last pew. I thanked her very much and said it didn’t bother me to be by myself. Also, I didn’t want her to see me taking notes. Pastor Dawn told me a little bit about the Nazarene Church and provided me with a visitor’s packet. She said she was the “senior pastor” and her husband, also a pastor, would be preaching today. I saw in the bulletin that he is the “lead pastor,” but his name was listed under hers, so I think she’s the head honcho. I like that.
The worship time proceeded with several songs, led by the Praise Team of two guitarists, one pianist and one tambourinist/drummer. A number of people swayed to the songs and raised hands. In between the singing, Pastor Dawn and a few others said prayers. One man read a part of a Psalm. There was no formal liturgy, however. No responsive readings, no statement of faith or Lord’s Prayer. They didn’t even ask for prayer requests from the congregation, which consisted of about thirty people. There wasn’t a greeting time either. About twenty minutes into the service, a woman led the only two children out of the sanctuary. No children’s time or sermon, which disappointed me a bit.
Then, at 11:30, the husband pastor started the sermon. He preached a solid sermon about the tests we face in life. He said there were two main sources of tests: Satan and God. Satan tests us to try to destroy our relationship with God and others. God tests us to try to measure us spiritually and to mature us wholly. He also said there are two outcomes of life’s tests: victim or victor. He cited Judas as a victim and Abraham as a victor, of their testing. He only used biblical examples in the sermon. I think he missed an opportunity to go deeper, to give concrete examples of trials people face today and how some have overcome or not. I think trials and temptations are actually a little more complicated than what he presented, but oh well, he kept it simple.
Sometime during the thirty minute sermon, a man from the back of the church screamed. For a moment I thought we had an active shooter situation and was about to duck and cover. But, when no one else seemed to flinch, I realized they had a mentally challenged man roaming the church somewhere. A couple of men left the sanctuary to attend to him. He ended up putting out the candles at the end of the service. I have to say, I love to see a church embrace their members, whatever they bring to the service.
Finally, we sang a closing song and received the benediction. Another man greeted me before I could escape. Overall, I really liked this church. However, I prefer a bit more liturgy, children’s interaction and sermons using examples from our current context. And when Pastor Dawn told me that Nazarenes are against alcohol use, well, that’s where I fell off the wagon.
But because these folks greeted me profusely, they definitely PASSED the WELCOME TEST.