I have wanted, for as long as I can remember, to visit a church that is not like what I'm used to in many ways. Specifically a church where I don't look like everyone else in the room. There are probably 20 reasons why I've wanted to do this, maybe more, but I'd just never gotten around to it. One of the biggest reasons I had never visited a church like that is the fact that I didn't want to go alone but I didn't know anyone who attended one that I could go with. Among my reasons for wanting to go are that I wanted to experience the music, the preaching style and the responsiveness of people. In my church I probably move more than 90% of the people in the room during the music... and I hardly move. During the sermon I respond out loud more than most and that occurs about once or twice a month - if I'm feeling really outgoing. I love the pastors in my church and am effected by the sermons they give but I don't think I've ever showed up in church and had any question but that the entire sermon was given near verbatim from the notes they had prepared in the weeks before. None of that is bad but I have really wanted to experience how other people do things.
So the one in 1500 (see my PSA to my single friends) attends a church like the ones I've always wanted to visit. He invited me to go with him on Sunday and I went. First of all church started at 11 but we were late... very late. We arrived at 11:45 and they were still singing, and loudly! We parked across the street and I could hear the music before I opened my car door. The pastor started his sermon about noon and I have to say I have never (even in the most heated fire and brimstone sermon in the Nazarene church of my childhood) heard a pastor speak so passionately. I'm sure he had an idea about what he intended to say but I don't think there is any chance he had the whole thing written out before he started. Oh and they don't hand out the sermon outline, with neat little blanks to fill out, as you walk in the door. People spoke to the pastor during the sermon. Anytime he made a point that resonated with an individual personally they commented - out loud! Numbers of people in the room would stand up and literally cheer at points meaningful to them. The sermon ended around one and then the music started again. The music and accompanying alter call lasted until 1:30. As soon as church ended I was greeted by probably dozens of people - admittedly in part because the church ladies wanted to know who this girl was that Brian brought to church - but still. I was asked if I'd be joining, or if I'd be back, and if I'd be interested in helping with this ministry or that, by a handful of people at least. It was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back. It opened up huge discussions about spiritual maturity, and the differences between our churches among other things. Probably one of the most interesting things was that the pastor twice used scriptures in his sermon that my pastor had used in the week or two before at my church.
The message was sound, the music was amazing, the people inviting, and I am looking forward to visiting again... but not before I show him The Grove!