A Blended Service (Visiting Church #52, part one)

A Blended Service (Visiting Church #52, part one)

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common FaithThe church has two services: a “blended” celebration, followed by a contemporary one.

For their blended service, traditional organ music engulfs the space during the prelude, prompting enthusiastic applause. On stage, an orchestra of fifteen plays for the opening song set. The amplified vibrato of the song leader fills the air. Though rousing, I question their self-description of this being a “blended” service, for it seems most traditional.

Today’s theme is “True Sacrifice.” Members of the military, home for a time, are recognized and invited to come forward. Their sacrifice for country is celebrated, noting that while being far more than the sacrifice of most people, it is also far less than the sacrifice of Jesus.

After applauding their service to our country, we stand for the Bible reading, first reciting 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Then our leader reads today’s text from Mark 14 and 15. When finished, we affirm in unison: “This is God’s word, and we believe it is true.”

The teaching focuses on Jesus’ death, his sacrifice for us. Their senior pastor is an outstanding communicator, delivering his message with excellence and conviction. To portray the anguish of “the cup” Jesus endured, they play a clip from The Passion of the Christ featuring the Garden of Gethsemane.

To wrap up the service a different worship team emerges, a contemporary ensemble to lead us in the final hymn, thereby fulfilling the “blended” promise of the service. The pastor invites visitors to come to the front after the service to meet him.

[Read about Church #51 and Church #52, part 2 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

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