Church Hunt Week 3
Where does it go? I have been crunched for it lately, but I need to get my thoughts down before I forget everything.
Week 3 found us returning to the Xenos ‘Sphere’ (which is what I found recently is how they refer to these meetings) with the entire family in tow. It had been quite snowy here in Ohio and many churches and organizations had closed services because of the conditions. Following my first visit the gentleman who had taken my email information had been good about sending me contact information and an invitation to his home church. This gave me the opportunity to call him that morning to verify that they were still having service.
I had expected that the weather would have a dramatic impact on the number of people who would show up but that was not the case. In fact, there may have been more people in attendance on this visit than the first one.
We were all greeted as we entered and Brianna (my youngest) and I were recognized by some of the people we had met the week before. Lauren and Brianna headed off to the youth area which was held in the gym while Heather and I found our way to a table towards the front of the cafeteria that served as the adult teaching room. I mentioned in my last post that they didn’t have a time of worship music that one would normally see in a typical ‘church’. Instead they had some music playing over some speakers while people were milling around and finding their places. One song that stuck in my memory was “I’m a soul man”.
This week’s teacher was an older gentleman who provided instruction on James chapter 3 verses 1 through 12. If you are not aware of that section of scripture it addresses the problems of controlling one’s tongue – always a convicting set of scripture. One thing he brought up that I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into was with verse 1 which speaks to the judgment or accountability that teachers of the Word fall under. I have always thought about the accountability before God that teacher’s face but he pointed out that there is also the human element. People who teach God’s Word will be scrutinized by people to see if the lifestyle aligns with the message. I am more inclined to be concerned with what God has to say about how we as teachers have presented His Word, but it is important to take note of how people receive the message that we are espousing based on how well we are aligned with it. I like it when I can walk away from a lesson with some thoughts to mull over.
The teaching style from week to week was different but both lessons came straight from the bible and were fundamentally sound. Each week the lessons ended with a wrap of how the scripture applied to the Christian’s life and a time was given for questions or comments from those who had gathered. One thing that I noticed from both weeks was no one really raised a question. There were several comments along the line of “hey, I really appreciated how you brought this out in your lesson” or “this passage made me consider this” but no real questions. I don’t know if the people were afraid to ask questions or if there really wasn’t a question in the house. It would have been interesting to see how the teachers handled queries about their lessons.
Following the lesson I took some time to introduce my family to a couple of people that I had met the week before and there were other people that approached us on their own and struck up conversations. I mentioned this in my last post, but it’s worth reiterating – this ‘sphere’ really has a Sunday School vibe to it. It does not have the western church service paradigm which may be a detraction for those who enjoy the conventional structure for a Sunday morning get together. I don’t know how the home groups function which leaves me at a loss to see how the pieces fit together. If God leads us to this church body we may get to know more about that aspect.
So, how did the family react to the Xenos Sphere?
Heather – I can’t remember any direct quotes, but I think she missed some of the aspects of the conventional church service.
Lauren and Brianna – They were both in the same group because of the small number of youth that attend the sphere. There were some aspects that they enjoyed like decorating pieces of a quilt that would be given to the Linus Project but I think they felt like they weren’t being engaged fully by the group of kids around them. To be fair, it looks like there are specific nights that are geared to youth programs and we don’t know what these entail.
- Size (appeared to be about 100 people)
- Denomination (Non-Denominational)
- Worship Style (None)
- Sermon style (None)
- Teaching (Exegetical from the bible with specific application time)
- Small group structure (Home groups that meet every other week with off weeks being set aside for men’s and women’s studies)
- Activities centered on families with children (small youth group with limited impact at the Sphere level. Unknown at the home church level. The Sphere is part of a greater organization that may do more that we are unaware of.)
- Missiology (Equip the saints to disciple where they live. Website presents opportunities for community outreach. Sphere presented opportunity to impact missions.)
- Statement of faith (Grace by Faith in Christ. Very similar to Baptist theology)
My thoughts – I really enjoy the teaching style presented in this church body. The people are very welcoming and I like that this gathering is in my neighborhood. I believe my family will have a hard time with switching paradigms of the conventional service for one that doesn’t have a time of worship through music. Additionally, I am concerned that the kids may not connect without purposeful intervention from someone who is gifted in this area.