Monday, January 04, 2010

One Week Church Experiment - Vineyard Community Church

In 1989, I became a Christian at the age of 19. Twenty years later, I was working at one of the largest churches in the country.  Now, I am visiting 1 church in 1 week in order to redefine my faith. This is reflection 1 of 1.
Four words - Loved it!

This church in beautiful downtown Springdale really challenged how I thought of church.  I normally attend a church that has certain rules.  You stand up and sing for twenty minutes, someone tells you to fill out a card and put money in a satchel, and then someone speaks to us.  That's how we do it at my church.  This place was different...

They began the service (or "celebration" as they call it) with a song.  I was out in the atrium talking with a friend, but Annie said that I'd just missed "the best song".  I stuck around despite the inevitable letdown.  Turns out the music was over...or was it?  A video appeared and a young man with a sugar disease popped up on the screen.  Once I got over his voice, I was drawn in by his story and how he wove it together with Scripture.  It was compelling and had the feel of hanging out with a friend that told stories while just the two of you are hanging out.  I thought it gave the time a nice tough to sort of bring you into an overall story that would be fleshed out for the next 45 minutes or so.

   That's when a young(ish) fella stood up and told us what was going to happen next...which was listening to him talk.  There was something endearing about this guy.  He reminded me of a good friend, only with a different shade of hair and fewer SNL references.

      I liked the cut of his jib.  I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it seems somehow appropriate.  He told a few stories from his childhood and then tied them together with Paul's story.  Paul's story was a little more well known, and Joe's was I give the slight edge to Paul even though it's not a contest...or is it?

   Joe described a bully or two from his childhood, and eventually described Paul (Saul) as a bully of sorts.  Paul was killing Christians until one day God spoke to him...which begs the question -   If this can change someone like Paul, imagine what an interaction with God could do with someone like you or me?

  Sometimes we're met with bullies - and sometimes we're the bully, or the problem, ourselves.  We fight against bad habits, bad history, bad attitude and bad circumstances...and yet we have the hope of fighting alongside God Himself.  The hero of the story from Acts 9 might just be Ananias.  God told him to go find the guy killing Christians and pray that he would be healed.  Can you imagine going to someone you love and praying out loud that God would heal them?  For some people that's just what they do - for many people that can feel a little too in your face.  We fear rejection, or the Holy roller label...or just failing.  Imagine what it'd be like to go to the Christian killer and pray for him IN JESUS' NAME.

  Seems a bit extreme to me.

  So I gotta wonder why my faith seems so tame these days.  I hear about revolution in church, and it sure doesn't feel that way.  Maybe there's a correlation that comes directly from how I really view God?

  Back to the church experiment.

  The evening (We attended on Saturday at 6:30) was far from over.  They rounded out the evening with four more songs and I left feeling a bit like I'd just come from a halftime speech from a great football coach.  The music gave the end an emotional boost that sort of lifted me out of my seat and sent me on my way.  I really liked how this church did their thing.

Overall I would recommend this church. They have good looking, smart community pastors, diet Dr. Pepper...and I'm not sure I'll be able to top that anytime soon...


  1. You will be hearing from my lawyer.

  2. somehow "punked" just doesn't seem strong enough here...

  3. I cannot wait for week 2. This is quite an original idea. Ingenious!!

  4. Barbara Eden is one of the community pastors ??

  5. I'm an idea man Mr. Thoms, that's what I do. I'm also putting together a site where people can send in (or "post") their secrets on postcards. Should be cool..

    Jarnsie, if only that were true