Sunday we visited our third United Methodist Church. I enjoyed all three, even though this one’s in sharp contrast to the other two. Based on our experience, it’s an anomaly for their denomination. I consider them an “outlier congregation,” a group unlike the norm, one that may be an enigma to their denominational leadership.
Their website says we “will find a laid back coffee house atmosphere” with “an unconventional setting where a blend of people…can gather and feel at home.” The website is correct.
The building was formerly a corporate headquarters, so it’s laid out like a business, not a church, but it works nicely anyway. With seating for about 150, it’s spacious and smartly decorated. Three videos are used during the service: one to start it, one to preview the message, and one during a time of healing prayer.
Having people come forward for prayer is a welcomed first on our journey. There’re two prayer teams and plenty of takers, with this portion of the service lasting several minutes. They anoint people with oil and pray for them, but they don’t publically share their needs or the prayers. The music provides a comforting background, with hugs of gratitude as the typical response. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m glad to witness it.
As an “outlier congregation” this church parallels church #8, “A Bold Experiment.” These churches may be the result of their respective denominations’ attempts to move into the future or merely the reluctant willingness of leadership to allow them to try something new. Regardless, they advance God’s kingdom.
Will they be a short-lived experiment or a glimpse into the future? I hope and pray it is the latter.