Church Experience #49 – December 24, 2011
Chattanooga Convention Center – Chattanooga, TN
Church Experience #50 – December 25, 2011
Brainerd Baptist Church – Chattanooga, TN
Have you been to…?
There was one church throughout the entire year of 2011 “ChurchSurfing” that I was invited to (and asked about) more than any other. Brainerd Baptist Church seems to be a “top of mind” church in Chattanooga. It is definitely big. It has a very popular community center called the BX (for Brainerd Crossroads…it’s across an intersection from the main building). It has a young and energetic pastor, Robby Gallaty, who I heard described as a “future mega-church pastor” (used in an endearing way, of course, pointing to his charisma). So with Brainerd Baptist being one of the most seemingly dynamic churches in Chattanooga, I should have gone to visit immediately to see for myself, right? Not so fast. There were obstacles in the way. I had already visited several Baptist Churches and had a few more already penciled in on my “to visit” list. I also visited ChristWay Community Church, which I thought, was non-denominational but turned out to be Southern Baptist also, which added another Baptist church onto my blog. I definitely wanted the ChurchSurfer blog to feature various denominations, but with something like 60% (I might be making that up) of the churches in the Chattanooga area being Baptist, I knew I would end up visiting more Baptist churches than any other denomination. There was nothing wrong with that, but I needed to sprinkle in the Baptist visits here and there and not let the blog become too predictable. I knew I would end up visiting Brainerd Baptist, I just wanted to wait for the right time. So looking ahead, I figured there was no better way to finish off my year of ChurchSurfing than to visit Brainerd Baptist for Christmas and make it the 2011 ChurchSurfer finale. Yep, that’s exactly what I did…and here’s how it went… Read more...
Church Experience #46 – December 4, 2011
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church – Chattanooga, TN
Everyone has things about themselves that they are disappointed in. Things that you know you should have done, places you should have gone, subjects you should have studied, books you should have read, actions you should have taken, opportunities you may have missed…the list goes on and on. We are all afraid (maybe to different extents) of coming to the end of our lives and saying the words “I should have ______, but I never did. I wish I could go back and do things differently”. Some of the things may seem small and insignificant to us in the present moment, so we keep putting them off thinking that we will have time to take care of them later. The problem is, none of us knows how much time we actually have left before we move on to the next realm. Today could be our last day here. So how do we prioritize and get the things done that we actually want to do? How do we even identify the things that could be those “Bucket List” type regrets? I believe that I need to weigh things out by testing them against the Bible and the life that Jesus lived. What would be a more likely thing for me to say with my last breath…”I should have gone skydiving,” or “I should have spent more time with my family”? I personally believe the latter is more likely (for me at least). That is an extreme example, but take a moment and scale that back to situations that are actually a part of your everyday routine. What would you be more disappointed in missing out on…the latest episode of “CSI: Miami” or an hour of time praying for the needs of friends and family who you know have major issues going on in their lives that could be healed or solved through God’s intervention? I think about these things often, and feel pretty guilty about the way I use my time. Time is one of the resources that we are given by our Creator that we are expected to be good stewards of…just like our physical strength, talents, wealth, etc. So how can I use the ChurchSurfer blog project (which I believe is a pretty good use of time) to also help me do some other things that are important to me? I have always had a desire to learn more history, specifically the history of the Christian faith and churches over the years since our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection. Protestantism and Catholicism are two pieces of modern Christianity that I have already experienced first hand, but there is another that I have left out up to this point. It’s time to fix that, so I decided to visit Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and begin to explore Orthodoxy. Here’s how it went… Read more...
Church Experience #44 – November 20, 2011
Christ United Methodist Church – Chattanooga, TN
Shame On Who?
I drive by Christ United Methodist Church fairly often these days when I am visiting my parents who live nearby in East Brainerd. I paid particular attention to a major addition that went on this year (which of course included the union protesters holding the “Shame On You” sign…now a Chattanooga staple) because it brought back memories of when Christ United Methodist was first constructed on the current property at the corner of Morris Hill and East Brainerd. I was a kid at the time and have some great memories of playing with some of the other boys in the church when it was first launched. Since then it has grown into a megachurch approaching 4,000 members. The last time I attended there, the sanctuary served double duty as a gymnasium with retractable basketball goals and stackable chairs that could be cleared out of the way for recreation. I was pretty sure that would no longer be the case, and the outside of the building (especially the new addition) looked to be more for appearance than functionality like the original design. I was curious to see all of the renovations and to find out what the church had grown into over the years, so I decided to drop in for one of my ChurchSurfer visits. Here’s how it went…
Alternative Gift Giving Read more...
Church Experience #43 – November 13, 2011
Signal Mountain Bible Church – Signal Mountain, TN
Dun, dun, duhhhhhh……….the In-Laws
It is nearing the end of my year of “churfing” (a.k.a. church-surfing) and there was still one particularly important church that I had not included in my ChurchSurfer visits. I think you will all agree that it probably would not be fair to visit my parents’ church (for Father’s Day) and leave out my in-laws’ church. My wife’s parents, Speight and Trudee Overman, and her sister Karen, live on Signal Mountain and are members of Signal Mountain Bible Church. I have visited there before (of course…gosh!), so this experience was not entirely new to me, but a “must” on my ever-shrinking list of church visits left for 2011 (can you believe it’s almost over?). Laura and I did not tell them we were showing up…like all the other Sundays this year, we just sort of decided to go and went. No special preparations or staged theatrics, we just pick a church and go and see what the Lord shows us through our experience. One of the great things about the church experiences that I have had this year is that I never have expectations. I may have suppositions about what or how things might happen at certain churches, but I never expect anything to happen a certain way…how could I? I do not go to these churches regularly and therefore cannot make any presumptuous conclusions. Why would I do that anyway? Would that not be saying that God is predictable? Or even worse, that He is not present and we have become predictable in our churches? Think about this for a moment…if we are trying to be imitators of Christ, would we honestly be predictable about how we do anything? It seems to me like the twelve who were closest to Jesus never knew what to expect. That is why Jesus was always explaining His actions to them. With unpredictability comes unexpected events, and with unexpected events comes misunderstanding. If you were not expecting something and it takes you “off guard”, you usually get details wrong and miss the point completely. Jesus made sure His disciples did not miss the details or the point of anything. Can you say the same about your church? Do you go to church each week expecting certain things? Would you be open to the unexpected? Do we purposefully create predictable churches out of fear of the unknown or the desire to keep everything “under control”? Just some good introspective questions that popped into my mind…but now back to the point of this article – Signal Mountain Bible Church. Read more...
Church Experience #42 – November 6, 2011
Christian Family Church – Rossville, GA
I first met some of the fine folks of Christian Family Church at Jfest 2011, an annual Christian music festival put on by the local Christian radio station J103. If you are in or around Chattanooga and have had a tough time committing to a local church (and my blog hasn’t helped you out? Gosh!) then I would highly recommend spending the day at Jfest 2012. I volunteered at a booth at Jfest for a local non-profit ministry, Men’s Ministry Network, and throughout the day I had the opportunity to meander through the rest of the booths, many of which were occupied by various local churches (side note…this was also how I met the people of Harvest Bible Chapel). Along with Faith and Family Night at Riverbend, these are the best two opportunities (that I know about) to meet and interact with people from multiple local churches all in one place (wouldn’t it be great if we all gathered together more often?). I have also become acquainted with Clark Thompson this year, who works as the Ministry Relations Director for J103 and also serves with me through Men’s Ministry Network. Clark is a member at Christian Family Church and spoke so sincerely about serving at that church that I decided to drop in on them to fellowship and worship the Lord together. Here is how it went…
A Double Dose of South Africa Read more...