Church Experience #12 – March 20, 2011
Dance Dance Revolution
About 10 or 12 years ago I went through a dancing phase in my Christian worship style. I had been a fan of live music for a long time (bluegrass, jazz, funk, jambands, etc) and I always enjoyed dancing at the concerts I attended. This kind of carried over into my Christian life and I would often migrate to the rear of whatever church or venue I was at and dance during the worship music. I never thought it was all that out of the ordinary, but looking back, I’m sure other people did. Then I visited a Vineyard church in Nashville and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were other dancers out there. Not the whole congregation danced, but quite a few people did, as well as bang tambourines, wave banners, and engage in various other free-spirited worship activities. I specifically remember a lady from the Vineyard service I attended who was a particularly fine dancer, and was probably the oldest person at the church that day, appearing to be well over 70. Now that my dancing days are for the most part over (except for at home where I still regularly cut loose to the amusement of my wife and dog) I was curious to see whether the Vineyard church in Chattanooga was also a place of free-spirited worship, or if I had just happened across a congregation that held a little more closely to the denomination’s San Francisco roots.
Warm Welcome Read more...
Church Experience #10 – March 6, 2011
Lookout Valley Baptist Church, Chattanooga, TN
So everyone knows that a married man should always make decisions based on what is best for the whole family, and when his wife wants something, it’s probably best for the whole family that she gets it. Up until this point in my ChurchSurfer journey, I have been making the decisions (often through listening for and following what I think are God’s leads) on where to go to church on Sundays. That ended this week. One of Laura’s friends from work invited her to church, so of course, that is where we went :). I’m sure you understand why I didn’t argue (I’m still amazed that she is going on this crazy journey to visit 50 churches in 1 year with me in the first place). One of the Christian life lessons I’ve learned over the years is that if you want to hear the Lord…His direction for you, His words of encouragement, His expressions of love…you need only to listen to His people. As it turns out, using Laura to suggest which church we attended this week was one of God’s leads.
The McDonald’s Theory Read more...
Church Experience #9 – Feb. 27, 2011
Bridge Christian Church, Chattanooga, TN
Networking for Church
One of the things I enjoy most in life is meeting new people. In business, I’m an avid networker. I seek out and get involved in various meetings, groups, organizations, social circles, etc. on a regular basis. My opinion is that the more people I know or know of, the better. I feel that in some way, maybe I’m increasing the odds of meeting someone who could make a substantial impact on my life (or I on theirs), that I would otherwise miss if I didn’t get out there and network. [For all you psychologists out there, maybe that’s why I felt the need to begin the ChurchSurfer project…it’s my spiritual networking.] This thought of increasing the odds of making a meaningful connection definitely proved to be true in the instance of discovering Bridge Christian Church…had I (and they) not been involved in networking, it may never have happened. The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce morning networking events I attend always include “self introduction” time where they pass the microphone around the room so everyone can announce their name and business. At one event, I heard an introduction from someone followed by a church name…Bridge Christian Church. I was instantly intrigued. I had never seen a church come to a business networking event and I knew I needed to meet this person immediately. It turns out the person was Scottie Blackburn, Community Pastor at Bridge, which is a four month old church. Cool! A new angle for a ChurchSurfer article…exploring the beginnings of a baby church. Read more...
Church Experience #4 – Jan 23, 2011
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
It’s Denomination Time
After spending the first few weeks of 2011 attending non-denominational churches, I knew it was time to take ChurchSurfer into the denominational world. Although I plan on visiting all of the popular denominations sometime this year, I couldn’t see myself going to a Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian church this week because that’s what I’ve known for the majority of my life and I really wanted to experience something new. So I chose an Episcopal Church, because I know very little about that denomination. It turns out that its a very interesting denomination…the history, the rituals, and the people I met were all very enlightening to me. One of the ways I feel like I grew this week was in expanding my awareness of church history and the responsibility of carrying on traditions from generation to generation. So get ready to jump back in time…
Creating an Atmosphere Read more...
Church Experience #3 – Jan 16, 2011
New Covenant Fellowship Church
A Place for Every Race
With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day being celebrated the day after this week’s Sunday worship, I decided to choose a church based on the potential for insight into ethnicity and race in American Christianity. A few weeks ago while browsing different churches online, I ran across New Covenant Fellowship, a Chattanooga church that actually brands itself as a “multi-ethnic” church. The banner on their website proclaims “A Place 4 Every Race” with multi-color letters of blue, green, yellow, red, and purple. I found it very interesting that a church would go out of its way to place a label on itself, and knew right then that I needed to go there at some point. It seems that so many churches these days try to avoid any labels for fear of scaring away potential visitors, and by announcing up front that they are a multi-racial congregation, New Covenant Fellowship definitely risks exactly that. There are probably still individuals who are very uncomfortable around large groups of people of a different ethnicity, and if you’ve never been to this church before, you have no way of knowing how balanced the representation of each race will be. I personally could care less about a person’s race. Other than contributing to your personality, I think race/color/ethnicity has very little consequence elsewhere in our lives. Racism still exists in today’s world, but my experience has been that it comes from all races, not just one. I’ve been the victim of racism…I’ve been threatened and called “cracker”, but I know that was the voice of the enemy, not of that race. I also have lifelong friends from many different races…black, hispanic, asian, european. People are people…period. The only people I discriminate against are those who are filled with hate, and even though I choose to love all people, I certainly won’t call racist people my friends. Read more...
Church Experience #2 – Jan 9, 2011
the Net Church – Chattanooga
No building? No worries!
For my first Chattanooga church experience of 2011 I decided to visit the Net Church that currently meets in the Rave movie theater off I-24 near the Moore Road exit (184). I decided to visit this church for two reasons: 1) I met the worship leader, MJ, at my company Christmas party back in December (his girlfriend was a newly hired employee) and he spoke passionately about his church, which is always good. And 2) I was really interested to see what a church that once had a billboard that promoted their website, www.ifyouhatechurch.com, was like (visit their website for an explanation). I’ve always been curious about the pros and cons of not having a church building. On one hand, it seems like such a waste for every single church to build another building. Do we really need that many church buildings? It seems like the ones we already have don’t even get used that much. On the other hand, I can see why a congregation would want their own space to hold events whenever they want. The people at the Net certainly didn’t seem like not having their own building affected them in the least, and they definitely did an excellent job of utilizing the movie theater space effectively.
Church at the movies? Read more...