Church Visit #34 – September 4, 2011
Redemption Point Church – Ooltewah, TN
It’s All About the Timing
On multiple occasions this year I have been invited to visit Redemption Point Church in Ooltewah. I am not sure how or why I have ended up running into so many people who attend there, but it is one of those weird things that keeps popping up over and over. At one point earlier in the year I visited the Redemption Point website and was intrigued by the “Aspiring to be the most loving church in America” slogan right there on the home page. At the time I was really focusing on how I was welcomed into the churches that I was visiting and how the people at each church interacted with me. I thought it would be interesting to see if the people at Redemption Point were doing any better at living out their aspiration to be the most loving church than all the other churches around Chattanooga. Maybe God knew that would be the wrong reason (or maybe the wrong time) to visit Redemption Point, because it soon slipped my mind and I never felt strongly led to go there…until now. After having another one of those “chance” encounters…this time with a friend who had been on the same Walk to Emmaus that I attended in the Spring, who I ran into again at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon recently. He invited me to visit his church, which just happened to be Redemption Point. So this time I felt like it was definitely time to go, and after visiting I know why I was supposed to wait until now. I’ll go over the timing aspect of this church visit a little later, but here’s how the experience went… Read more...
Church Experience #21 – May 29, 2011
Bethel Temple Assembly of God – Hixson, TN
Call Me Crazy
Once again on my ChurchSurfer journey I was venturing out to my weekly “first-time” church visit without my wife Laura, who was traveling to Florida to help a long-time friend of ours move to Chattanooga. For you analytical folks out there, one of the things I have found to be very interesting along the ChurchSurfer journey, has been to compare the way different church experiences have gone (sociologically, I suppose) based on various environmental factors…such as whether I’m alone or with Laura, whether we are dressed up or casual, how different we are from the majority demographic, etc. Of course, none of these analyses can be scientific or definitive, but I often find myself thinking about them anyway…what might have made the experience go differently, either for the better or worse, and why does any single experience turn out the way it did in the first place? Let me take a moment and speculate on what God’s perspective may be on these issues (an ignorant undertaking, of course, but I’m OK with that). I would be inclined (or, not be declined…inside joke for my wife) to think that one area in which God would especially want all the individual local churches to be of the same accord, would be on how they receive guests or visitors. I’m not taking the time to search for any Scripture references to back me up here (dangerous, I know), but shouldn’t every single church be looking for the opportunity to “wow” their guests and visitors? I do not say this meaning that churches should put up some kind of superficial exterior that is not a true representation of the hearts and attitudes of the individual members. What I mean is, shouldn’t having a guest or visitor in a church be one of the easiest and well-timed opportunities for us to share Christ’s love with someone? I would think that Christ Himself would want us to welcome people with hugs and brotherly kisses, with visible excitement over their presence, with sincere interest in getting to know another fellow heir to the Kingdom, and with the desire to serve them, esteem them, and honor them. Whoa! How completely awesome would that be? Some of you are probably thinking I am crazy right now, but that’s OK with me too. Now, let me tell you a quick story about a church called Bethel Temple Assembly of God that came closer to that word-picture I just painted about how visitors should be treated than any other ChurchSurfer experience I have had on my journey thus far. Read more...