This is my first blog post in a series I am doing on our experience visiting churches of various denominational labels, sizes and different style of services. It is not my intent to be critical, but rather to be real and honest in our experiences. We have established criteria we are looking for at all of the institutional churches we are visiting. I do not intend to mention the church specifically by name.
I have blogged in the past about Christians who have left and are leaving the institutional church in large numbers. They are leaving for their own spiritual welfare. Most still love God but have become disillusioned or fed up with the institutional church today. I believe this is a timely series. May it open our eyes and our hearts to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus.
~DENOMINATIONAL LABEL - United Methodist
~TYPE OF SERVICE
~SIZE OF CHURCH - Large
~FRIENDLINESS - This church didn't come across as friendly to us. In addition to the door greeter only two people shook our hands
~AVERAGE AGE OF CONGREGATION 45-50
~DRESS ATTIRE - Casual to dress
~GREETING - There was a brief greeting during service (30-45 seconds)
~MUSIC - Live band (full band)
~BALANCE OF MUSIC VS WORD - Started off with two songs and ended with two songs. The overall balance of music and Word was pretty good considering the length of the praise and worship songs.
Power Point, You Version Bible app, preacher used tablet, two screens above platform so congregation can better see minister.
~ACTIVITIES/PROGRAMS OFFERED - The church offers several Bible studies throughout the week for men, women and moms, refreshments and fellowship after service on Sundays, they also provide other studies throughout the week for those interested.
~BIBLE VERSION USED- NIV
~PREACHING STYLE- Conversational
~USE OF SCRIPTURE - Minister ministered from text.
~RELEVANT MESSAGE - Very relevant message on spiritual growth. An outline of the message was provided in the bulletin for the congregation to follow.
~LENGTH OF SERVICE 55 minutes
Interestingly enough, the service started off with an old rock song. In fact, as the service was dismissed the band played and sang the same song. The song title was the message title. No one was singing along with this song. It appeared to me that the congregation was being entertained. I will be curious to find out if this is the case in other institutional churches today.
After this first song, the band played and sang one worship song. Utilizing the power point, the congregation did participate in singing this worship song. We observed a few people even lifting their hands in worship to God. I must admit I wasn't aware people in the United Methodist Church did that.
One area of concern was they baptized two babies and a teenager using sprinkling as the mode of baptism. I do not see a precedent for infant baptism in Scripture. I also do not see sprinkling as a scriptural mode of baptism. The Greek word for "baptize" in the New Testament means "immersion" or "to immerse". So this is an area of concern for me.
Little was said about the offering before it was received. However, this being a tech-savvy church, they do have in their bulletin three easy ways to give electronically. They are using your debit or credit card at a kiosk, giving through their website by e-check or credit/debit card or an automatic bank transfer on a weekly or monthly basis.
All in all it was an interesting experience. Not altogether good, but not altogether bad either.
Stay tuned for our next adventure.
Until next time... enjoy the journey!