This week my family and I are at the Outer Banks (NC) for a much needed, much anticipated week of vacation. Next week all four kids start back at school and fall is going to be a busier time for Hope of Christ Church, so this seemed an appropriate week to get away.
I know that when some families vacation, they like to vacation from EVERYTHING including Sunday Morning Worship. I do not like to do that. There are a couple reasons for this. 1. It seems to me that by ‘vacationing’ from worship I am telling my kids that we really are the center of the universe and God is just going to have to get over it. 2. It seems to indicate that worship is a hassle that we need vacationing from. 3. I love to worship with other churches-sing new songs, experience new liturgies, and just sit for a change with my family under the preaching of God’s Word with another appendage of the Body.
I guess here is where this blog becomes like so many other blogs. Am I just complaining? Am I just badmouthing a more relaxed church? I don’t think so, but the four of you who read this blog can let me know… No, I researched online the church options before me on the Outer Banks. I was looking for something pretty particular, admittedly. This church we attended I was excited about attending. It was admittedly something different from what my family has experienced on any given Sunday.
There were plenty of things before worship that were different, some that I would have done differently, but really everything was very well done. There were people ready to greet and welcome visitors. Everyone was very friendly. They had Krispy Kreme donuts (not fake KK but real actual KK donuts!). This admittedly should have been enough to overshadow any shortcomings. They offered a children’s church for the ages of three of our four kids, so we let them attend-including my son who is going into fifth grade this year.
As we milled around eating donuts, I had the chance to watch some of the people. You could tell that this church swelled in attendance during the summer vacation months. I noticed that over half the people in attendance didn’t have Bibles. I know, that’s hardly a means of knowing who the visitors are in a church anymore. That is a blog rant of its own and maybe before the week’s over, but I will ask; Did you go to math class without your text book, too? anyhoo…
The music was well done. If I say that it was a little loud I realize I will be crossing into an age bracket I never thought I would, so I will just say that I really did genuinely appreciate it and enjoy it. It was what I was expecting when I picked the church for our family.
The senior pastor was on vacation this week also (apparently a good week for pastors to get away). So one of their long time missionaries whom they have supported spoke. He is a Campus Crusade Dude actually from Raleigh, NC. After the worship service I was pretty upset. My wife was upset also (probably not a little bit with her husband who drove us all passed several churches to get to this one). But I did not want to express my despair. Our daughter-going into seventh grade-was with us in worship, so I asked her what she thought and if anything struck her as odd.
“The moving pictures behind the words as we sang were weird. I couldn’t concentrate.” Fair enough. My wife offered assent to that point. At first I thought I disagreed. I liked the moving pictures and swirling colors and was considering asking our power point guy to look into them. But then I realized, I can remember every swirling design they used yesterday… I can’t remember one song we sang. For those of you (again not many – only four are even reading this) with some say in your power point presentations at church who are considering those pretty swirling designs behind the words, or maybe you already use them, please keep us ADD folk in mind as you design those wonderfully shiny thingies. We’re not looking for blank, just not animated.
“We didn’t need our Bibles.” hmmm. That is true. We ‘worshiped’ Jesus, we heard Jesus’ name once or twice, but we never heard from Jesus.
“The guy didn’t really talk about God. He told us a lot about his family and some stories about other people.” BINGO! It was not a sermon or whatever you need to call it to feel comfortable going to church. It wasn’t a talk about God. God was mentioned once or twice, but it was entirely a story of this man and his family and some of the people he’d met at NC State and UNC. Now, please do not misunderstand my grievance. I like missionary updates as much as the next guy. I like slide shows and Steve Green singing, “People Need the Lord.” But replacing the entire message of God with a talk about your family seems a bit self-centered.
It was only after the service as we were walking to our van on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon that several things struck me. 1. we were still at the beach, on vacation – and that was awesome. 2. I love my church. I love that we love worship in its full expression. I love that we love the Word of God, both read every Sunday and preached. 3. It was the visitors who brought their Bibles to church yesterday… silly us.