Home > Church Hunt > Church Hunt Week 1

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?

Brianna (12):

“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.

Lauren (17):

“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.

Final Thoughts:

  • 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.

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Categories: Church Hunt Tags: , ,
  1. January 26, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Good job Tony. I like the idea that you were thorough and definitely asked the kids and Heather what they thought. However, you never gave your specific thoughts. You gave us some commentary but not what you thought about attending. But I reckon we can let you off the hook. Looking forward to Week 2.

    • January 29, 2010 at 3:49 am

      Thanks, Bill.

      I had hoped my commentary would provide enough detail about my thoughts on the church without making too determinate an opinion seeing as I have only visited one time.

      My greatest hope is to follow the Holy Spirit to where He is leading us. I don’t want to make a ‘call’ on any church until we have had a chance to see a few.

  2. randy morgan
    January 28, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    i’m lookinig forward to week #2 as well. may i ask why you chose to leave your last church?

    btw, thanks for your comment on my space.

    • January 29, 2010 at 4:13 am

      Randy,

      First, let me say that I loved the church… not the organization that people get confused with church, but the body of believers. Leaving was not an easy decision after having attended with that congregation for almost 7 years and having poured our hearts into several ministries.

      In the past 2 years, there was a noticeable shift in how the church leadership was conducting certain aspects of church missiology that I have personal convictions about and was unable to ratify with what I read in the bible. Specifically:

      * Church Give-a-ways to attract people to events, revivals, or special services. We gave away ipods, wiis, gift cards, and even a car.
      * Non emphasis on teaching from the bible. Most discipleship classes including Sunday School were directly taught from curriculum provided by Lifeway. My personal convictions are that a man or woman gifted in teaching by the Holy Spirit is called to be able to rightly divide the Word and to Study to show that he or she can do so. There was no policy in place to train, qualify, or hold accountable those who were teaching beyond the restriction to teach from provided curriculum.
      * Focus on numeric success instead of health and growth of the spiritual aspects of discipleship. Heavily evangelistic without appropriate levels of equipping of the saints.
      * Sermons were topical instead of exegetical and were usually aimed at creating an atmosphere where non-believers would be given an opportunity to ‘make a decision’. That is not to say that it was bad, but investment in equipping of the saints should be paramount for the main teaching point of the week.
      * The final straw was a book campaign aimed at creating an experience by which home groups could be launched. The book is endorsed by Joel Osteen whom I have strong opinions about and approaches important subjects from the wrong motivation. The church adopted a “so easy a cave dweller can do it” advertisement to encourage people to become leaders of these new community groups. For me, this totally discounts James 3:1 and Paul’s instructions to Timothy on the importance and accountability that are found in the position of teaching. I love the concept of home groups and wish to see them flourish but I am great grieved that we were more concerned about availability in meeting a goal of 100 small groups instead of training and qualifying members to take this role for what it really is.

      Ultimately, it comes down to what your posts were about. I don’t believe that the ends justify the means. I believe the bible gives us enough example and testimony to understand that God expects our obedience to His will first and foremost. The Holy Spirit should be the direction giver within the church and that direction should agree with what we find in scripture. Without those elements we are just bad people trying to be or do good instead of people who were once dead but now are alive in Christ, wanting to be kingdom bringers in the hopes that more dead people will come alive.

      • randy morgan
        January 29, 2010 at 6:13 am

        wow, what a thoughtful response. i affirm your position, tony, and appreciate your commitment to “doing church” biblically (in other words, “being church”). i regret your struggle, but i gotta’ tell you, i am encouraged by your journey. it feels like people that think objectively are pretty rare. please don’t be offended, but i see you as a kindred spirit. i look forward to become better acquainted…in a virtual sense.

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