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Church Surch, Week 16

Church Surch Week 16 Moran Park, Ridge Point Church
Holland, Michigan

Moran Park purchased an old Baptist church building and after a year, are going and growing. They minister to addicts, so there is a large customer base. Even though it's only a year old, the place filled up with people (350 or so) and noise.
Today's Church Surch is a bit skewed, as two friends accompanied me. Since its mission is recovery, we'll call them A and J. And J brought S. J introduced me to friends, and people mingled with enthusiasm.
The coffee kiosks clearly identify a recovery church. Work on one addiction at a time. They provided coffee carafe's in the foyer, another table near the altar and a coffee kiosk in the overflow. Let the caffeine flow!
Now here's the difference. The service opened with a few songs, and I feared we would have a lame worship. Next a rookie read-literally-announcements, commenting that announcements are harder than it seems.
The offering came next, a huge risk, as people haven't heard the sermon and give according to quality. Kidding!
Oddly, we took a break for awhile, with the announcement, "Take some time to
greet someone new, go outside and have a smoke..."
Did he say that? Yep. Work on one addiction at a time.
People greeted one another, and Ann engaged me in conversation. The break lasted around ten minutes, and then we reconvened.
Worship time. The band struck up, with keyboard, drums, guitars and singers.
Most songs were about chains being broken and freedom (appropriate) and we all sang and worshipped. Oh, yes, we shook the gates of heaven. Wonderful.
Jim spoke, a guest speaker and former pastor of Ridge Point, the mother church spoke today. He's working in prison ministry and vacillates from meeting Catholic Archbishops on policies to visiting death row inmates.
Today he spoke about Jesus at Gethsemane, facing his upcoming death and praying, "Let this cup pass. Yet not my will but Yours be done."
He told the story of Art, a death row prisoner who prayed for a life sentence
and release, so he could tell others of freedom in Christ. Finally, however, he felt God tell him that he belonged there. That's where the society placed him for killing five people and that's where God could use him. So his ministry is to nine other death row inmates and a few guards. Not my will. What do I desire from God that is my will not His? How about you?
The service ended and people hung about, talking and hanging together.
Today I enjoyed a really different and wonderful church. I pondered this growing and very alive place, while seeing churches closed and shuttered other places. Perhaps the church isn't dying, but evolving. The traditional church wanes while the non-conforming church grows.
The Surch continues.

A friend asked if I ever thought I would encounter a 'wow' church. What would be a 'wow' church?
I think a church that would 'wow' me would look like this: Friendly. People would engage me. That's not wow. That's what any church should do. A wow church would have people that meet me and engage then would invite me over or out to lunch.
It could happen.
Worship. A bunch of people that sing and worship the Lord, with few people or
none not participating. We encounter the Master in a real way.
The Word. The pastor preaches the gospel, the Good News, not a social
commentary. Not a political rally or any manipulative sermons. (Yes, I've sat
through those.)
A healthy church. Hmm. The people can be stumbling, but they must be stumbling in the right direction. Honesty helps a lot but there must be growth and movement toward maturity.
Real. Please don't speak to me in 'Christianese,' using language in church that you never would use outside. Drives me crazy.
Today's church fired on most of the cylinders. One of the best, if not the best church so far.


Mel Nason said...

Glad you liked the church today. If ALL churches were places of recovery (rather than mere social gatherings for cliques) this would be a much better world.

................................ Kevin Parsons said...

Yes what a refreshing change.