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...
Little Brown Church (Union Chapel) – Summertown, TN
A Church with a History
I will start this week with an interesting fact that many Chattanoogans may not be aware of: Signal Mountain is not a mountain at all…it is a town that exists on Walden’s Ridge. So when someone says “I live on Signal” or “I’m going up the mountain”, what they really should be saying is “I live in Signal” or “I’m going up the ridge”. Walden’s Ridge extends much further past the town of Signal Mountain with other communities and towns tucked away on winding side streets that most of the time get lumped into the catch-all phrase of “Signal Mountain” that everyone recognizes. One of these communities on Walden’s Ridge is Summertown, which has a very interesting history and a very unique and famous building called Little Brown Church (officially, Union Chapel). For the sake of space, I will not get into the full history of Little Brown Church (there is an entire book on it) other than to say it is over one-hundred years old and was started by Chattanooga families that made Summertown their escape from the summertime heat in the valley and the Yellow Fever that showed up with the mosquitoes. They built this little chapel as a gathering place, but rather than hire a pastor, they decided to save the money and do all the teaching and preaching themselves. Little Brown Church operates from Memorial Day through Labor Day each summer, and to this day is a community-run entity, with no paid staff and a different person serving as the Director each year. Read more...
One of my goals for the ChurchSurfer journey that I’m currently on, is to visit as many different Christian denominations as I can in the process of attending fifty different churches in 2011. I’m now 14 weeks in and there are a few major denominations that I still haven’t visited, so this week I wanted to make sure to check one of those “majors” off the list. I had been introduced by a mutual friend to Chris Ackerson recently because of his involvement in the Men’s Ministry Network. I remembered Chris mentioning that he attended Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church, and Presbyterian was one of the “must visit” denominations that I hadn’t been to yet, so I decided I would drop in on him. I looked up the Signal Mountain Presbyterian website and while browsing through Sunday School classes, I noticed that he was the leader of one of the classes. I figured that going to Sunday School as well as the regular worship service would add an extra element to this week’s article. We’ll see.