I have to just sit down and tell you about these churches that we've visited here in Oklahoma City. Today's service was blog worthy in and of itself. However, I'll start with last week's church. We went to this HUGE church (reminded me of James River..the layout, anyway). It had a choir and orchestra. Sorry for the photo quality...
This church has 5 services. It has a traditional chapel service complete with communion. It has two blended services (contemporary and traditional mixed), and it has two contemporary services. We decided to go to the blended service. I thought it would be interesting because this church is known for the 200+ member choir. It ended up being a fairly good service.
One thing that the preacher got up and talked about was how he doesn't like "alter calls." Well, I don't like the word, "alter." I think that word is Old Testament, and it reminds me of killing and sacrificing. Today, because of Jesus, we don't have to sacrifice any animals. I like the concept of an "alter" in today's concept, meaning that we can come and pray and lay things on it to give to God. But I rather like to use the expression, "lay things at His feet," or "put it in God's hands."
I believe that we can give things to God anywhere we are and we don't have to go to an "alter" to give it to Him. Now, don't get me wrong, I do like the concept. I think if people need to pray, then they should. Sometimes God tries to teach us a lesson in pride and we do need to go up front to ask for people to pray for us. Overall, it was a fairly good experience.
Today's service, on the other hand, was totally different. Tyler and I both come from traditional churches, and the church we visited today was on the opposite end of traditional. I like contemporary services, because they have music that I know and it's not just hymns. Today, we felt that we were at a Hillsong concert all over again. And when I think about the Hillsong concert I just went to a couple months ago, I felt like I could worship there. Today, I'm not sure the atmosphere was creating worship for me. But shame on me for not being about to worship in a different atmosphere. It was just way different than what we're used to so I was very side-tracked.
This isn't a very good picture either. But you can see the stage and how it created a "concert" atmosphere. This was a very modern church. Every song we sang was a Hillsong song (no problem with that; I LOVE Hillsong). Instead of a preacher giving the annoucements, we watched a video. This could have easily been done within 5 minutes, but the video lasted probably 10 minutes or so. I understand video announcements in a college setting. CCH does this and I have no problem with that, because sometimes students need to laugh and be entertained. But in church, I find that as weird. I don't go to church to be entertained. I go to church to worship my God.
Shortly after the songs and announcements were over, the preacher got up and told the congregation that they needed to be baptized. By the looks of things, I don't believe they had a baptistery. So they have a specified week for water baptisms, and next week is the week. I agree 100% that everyone should be baptized (immersed) in water. In the Bible it talks about baptism a lot, and it's a step in obedience. Jesus was baptized, and we are supposed to be following Him. Anyway, I had no problem with the fact that they have a week of baptisms, but the way the guy went about "demanding" that everyone be baptized left a bad taste in my mouth. He said that there were some of us in attendance that hadn't followed God in 5 years, but we need to be baptized. Yada, yada, yada.
I believe that baptism is a personal decision and you should decide that you're ready to be baptized on your own terms. No one should tell you that you need to be baptized next week. When you are ready to accept God and follow Him, He will be waiting for you.
Then there was mention of "giving buckets." Communion was not served, and offering was not given. If you had something to give, put it in the bucket that said, "I Love Giving" on the way out. When communion isn't served during the service, I miss it. I miss that time of reflection, prayer, and intimacy with God. I grew up in a church that partakes in communion weekly. When it's not served, I really miss it. My mom has said many times that the weekly service should be centered around the time of communion. It's a time to reflect on what Christ did for me and you. It's a special time, and I do agree with that.
Lots of coffee cups were brought in to the service today. I do have a problem with that. I've always been taught that you don't ever take food or drink in the sanctuary, auditorium, worship center, or whatever you want to call it. It's disrespectful to God. Church is a time of worshiping God, not paying attention to our needs or even wants, in this case. Like I said before, this was more like a concert experience.
Lastly, I saw a ton of people wearing jeans. I really don't know how many people were dressed in something other than jeans. I don't have a problem with this, because this is my own conviction. My mom and dad always told me that we wear our best for God. I wear jeans on a daily basis and dressing up was a way to show Him that He's worthy of more than my jeans. I've only worn jeans to church once, and even then I felt really out of place. The preacher was even wearing jeans...hmmm.
This may sound really superficial, and it may be. But we've really gotten out of our comfort zone and visited a different church each week. Today's experience was just way out of the norm.
What matters most, when it all comes down to it, is that we all worship the same God. We all believe in the same Bible. What matters the most is that we should love God and love others.
Tomorrow I'll try to post about our sight-seeing adventures this weekend!