Church Experience #23 – June 12, 2011
New City Fellowship PCA – Chattanooga, TN
With or Without Generalizations
When it comes to making generalizations about how people worship and conduct church services compared to what types of cultures and subcultures make up the majority of the people in a congregation, I would say I have pretty much gotten what I have expected so far on the ChurchSurfer journey. Denomination seems to be the best foreshadow of what to expect out of a church experience, and then as you add in the demographics of the pastor and people that make up the church you can pretty easily paint the rest of the picture. For example, if you go to an Episcopal church that has a predominantly white congregation in an affluent neighborhood, you can probably bank on the fact that the service will be dressy and formal with conservative hymn-based worship led by a choir without electric instruments or drums. There are plenty of generalizations like this that will tell a story about what a certain church is like, and I would argue that (whether consciously or unconsciously) these are the tools most people use to decide which church they will attend or join…it is really just human nature. So far, I have attended twenty-two different churches in 2011 and have not really been surprised (by not knowing what to expect) yet. I am not really sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Should churches be that predictable? I can think of arguments for both the “yes” and “no” answers to that question, as well as for “yes and no” answer. Let me also clarify that I am speaking of the typical format and style of the worship service here, not the events that happen (or results of those events) at a church on any given Sunday, which are wholly up to the Holy Spirit (you like how I did that…wholly and Holy?). The reason I am bringing these things up (as you can probably guess) is that here I am in week twenty-three and feel like for the first time I visited a church that was not what I thought it would be. Well, to be honest, I have actually been to New City Fellowship once before, probably ten years ago or more, and that was my experience then. Now that I am married I thought it would be a great church for my wife Laura to experience as well, plus one that should definitely be included in ChurchSurfer. So here is the run-down on our experience…
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