Church Hunt Week 1
I mentioned about a week ago that my family was going to begin a campaign to find a new church home and that we would try to capture our thoughts as we made this journey in a series of posts. Read here to see where this started.
We had planned to visit a fellowship that was meeting in the sch0ol behind our house but instead chose to attend a small baptist church where we knew some of the people who attend there. We will attempt to make the Xenos fellowship this coming Sunday… so stay tuned if you were interested about that one.
So without further ado, here are our thoughts on the Full Armor Baptist Church.
We arrived at 9:30 am in order to take advantage of both Sunday School and Service. We were greeted by the pastor as we entered the church and he immediately helped us with knowing where to go for each member in our family. My wife and I attended the ‘under fifty’ class (it was that or the over 50 class), and my eldest daughter went to the older teen class while my youngest daughter went to a class of her peers.
My wife and I found our way to some metal folding chairs at the back table and were greeted by a few of the members of the class. We were given copies of the Lifeway curriculum in King James translation that the class was studying through. I leafed through the topic for the day and it was about Solomon’s research into the merits (or lack thereof) in gaining material possessions as recorded in Ecclesiastes. So the topic of the day was that stuff is bad if it comes before God. It was about that time that I wondered what my children were studying. Maybe they were sitting in circles discussing dispensationalism as it applies to the study of eschatology while we talked about ‘stuff is bad’. Ok.. so that was sarcasm.
Back to the lesson. The material nor the teacher ever took time to set the context of the passages that were being studied – we were all captives of the moral of the story lecture that stuff-doesn’t-bring-happiness-God-does.
After the lesson completed, we gathered up our eldest daughter who proceeded to tear the molding off the doorway with her wheelchair while exiting the class, and headed to service. Our youngest daughter remained in the younger people’s area for another lesson appropriate to her age.
There were probably 150 people gathered in the sanctuary by the time the service started. My wife and I were both impressed by the announcements concerning the churches endeavors to help Haiti and their local community. Music followed the announcements and we were all lead to sing from the hymnals located on the back of the pews in front of us. The songs that we sang were:
- The Old Rugged Cross
- Send the Light
- A song that I didn’t recognize (sang during the offering collection)
- And the Anchor holds (a solo by the teacher who taught our class who was also the music leader and assistant pastor)
The pastor then took the pulpit and proceeded to preach from Luke concerning the action of Christ casting out the devil from the mute and then being falsely accused of doing so from Satan’s power. His message was a spirited oration on how God is powerful and how we all need Him because He is bigger than anything in our lives.
There was an altar call where a third of the congregation went forward and prayed before the pastor even made the appeal. Following the altar call there were two baptisms and we sang “I’ll fly away” as we were being dismissed.
So what did the family think?
“We need to go to this church, dad, I have friends here and they made me feel welcome.” Her answer shows how important community is when it comes to being church.
“No one talked to me.”
There weren’t many kids her age in the class and I know her being in a wheelchair creates a barrier that many kids shy away from. She did talk at length with an adult that knew her after service and she said that was ‘unexpected’.
Heather (the wife):
“I liked that they were concerned about impacting the world and I agreed with several things that pastor covered today. But this isn’t our church.”
I was glad that she was engaged enough to look for things she enjoyed or agreed with while struggling with the new experience.
- Size (appeared to be less than 300 people)
- Denomination (King Jimmy Baptist)
- Worship Style (Loud and proud from the hymnal)
- Sermon style (Emotional oration leaning slightly toward badgering; the text may not have been as important as where the messenger wanted to go with it)
- Teaching (Basic Literature – Topical)
- Small group structure (Did not see evidence for small groups)
- Activities centered on families with children (unknown beyond what was offered as part of service and an announcement about an upcoming Music Concert)
- Missiology (Concerned about the community through works based on faith)
- Statement of faith (Fundamental Baptist; did hear the word backslidden used in conjunction with hypocrite so don’t know if eternal salvation is believed in both thought an practice)
Please let me be clear that this is by no means a comprehensive view of this church. We do not know the people, the teacher, or the pastor and have been exposed to them on just this one occasion. These are just our first impressions with what we experienced.
I was reminded on more than one occasion during our visit of the small churches that I visited or attended as a child back in the 70’s and 80’s.
Come back next week for our next installment.