This Sunday we visit a nondenominational church. It’s three years old and I know a bit about it and its pastor, who I perceive as a mostly postmodern guy possessing a modern theology. I suspect the church will mirror that.
Located in a small strip mall, I find a parking spot near the door. Only afterwards do I realize they leave the prime spaces for visitors. A man greets us warmly and we walk inside. The facility is inviting and accommodating. There are scores of people milling about. All are engaged in conversation, so we take a seat.
Intended as retail space, the rectangular room is narrow and three to four times as deep. The focal point is the side of the room, allowing everyone to sit relatively near the action. Smartly decorated walls, give way to two flat-screen displays. A wooden cross stands nearby.
The place fills up and the service begins. The pastor welcomes everyone and points out the church’s guiding goal is to grow deeper, not wider. This is significant; spiritual growth is more important than numeric growth.
The worship team has two on electric guitar, one on bass, a keyboard, drum kit, and a cello; three musicians also sing. There are no songbooks, with words displayed overhead. I estimate 170 present. The people are dressed casually; jeans and t-shirts abound while ties and dresses are absent. It’s a younger crowd. The feeling is one of excitement and life.
There is a break in the singing for “connection time,” an informal opportunity to mingle, get a coffee refill, or grab another doughnut. There are many people to talk to.
The pastor is an insightful Bible teacher. After the message, they serve communion. It’s open to all who acknowledge a saving faith in Jesus, so we happily participate, with the bread and juice passed in quick succession.
After a closing prayer, the service ends; there’s no offering. There are more people to talk to. It’s clear no one knows if we’re first-timers and some question if we’re visitors. We could have even been unknowingly talking to other visitors.
We drop off our guest card and head home. Two and a half hours have elapsed. Time passes quickly when in the company of winsome people and an embracing community. This is as church should be.