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 #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 Visit #35 – September 11, 2011
Burks United Methodist Church – Hixson, TN
Here I Go Again
So I got to thinking this past week (dangerous, I know) about the fact that I have been to thirty-five different churches in the Chattanooga area this year (well, actually thirty-four in Chattanooga and one in California). My line of thinking quickly switched from “wow, I’ve visited thirty-five churches this year”, to “wow, I only have fifteen church visits left this year”. So then I quickly started considering how many churches of each denomination I have been to, what parts of the area I haven’t visited yet, topics that I haven’t covered, experiences that I might have missed…OK stop right there. As I revisit those thoughts I also realize that I wish I could visit every church in Chattanooga, meet everyone, experience everything, and write about and share it all. I realize that the process of creating and doing the ChurchSurfer blog this year has opened my heart to an even deeper love for the Lord and for people, and a sincere desire to share His love with everyone I possibly can. I also realize that simply broadcasting messages about this Love through a blog or from the pulpit or any other means of mass delivery is simply not the way to accomplish that task. The best way to share God’s love with people is in person. People will receive your demonstrations of love through serving them much faster than they will receive anything you tell them or write to them. People change when you walk through it with them, not after you have preached it to them. In fact, God Himself gave us the best example by showing us that even though it was important to broadcast the Ten Commandments and sacred writings of His Word, ultimately He needed to come in person and show us His love by serving us (John 13:14-15). He did it in a way that we could replicate and then commanded us to do just that. As disciples we are called to not only receive His love, but to share it with others and ultimately, prepare others to share it also (2 Timothy 2:2). I truly believe that I could never accomplish with a blog that is read by thousands of people, anything close to what I could accomplish with only a few people in person. Jesus discipled twelve men. There were millions of other people on the earth and yet He chose to pour Himself into twelve men. It’s because He knew what those twelve men would go on to do. Here’s a news flash for you…if you are a follower of Jesus then you are called to do the same thing that those twelve men did (Matthew 28:19). OK, wow…I really didn’t mean to get sidetracked on a sermon, but that may have been a few minutes of Holy Spirit guidance there. I hope it means something to you. So now, on to this week’s church visit… Read more...