Church Surch Week 31, Fellowship Baptist Church
"No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
~Acts 3:13-14 NLT
Using my clever, strategic planning, I chose FBC because (a) we rode past it yesterday, and (b) it was walking distance from the (PP!) Best Western. The building was simple with stained glass, flat ceiling, blond pews and baby blue carpet. Poinsettias, Christmas trees, wreaths and garlands keep it festive for the season. Two WalMart greeters welcomed me. The dress code ran from suits and dresses to a teenager wearing shorts and sweat shirt.
Jerry noticed I was a new guy, introduced himself and we talked a bit. He's got deep roots, born close by and lived here his entire life. He loves the nice no pressure lifestyle, but noticed the moral breakdown since around fifteen years ago.
We sat and I surveyed the crowd, a mixed batch from newborns to white hairs. The service started with baptisms (of course, it's a Baptist church after all) of seven preadolescent kids. As the preacher baptized them, he repeated, "Buried in the likeness of His death, raised in the likeness of His resurrection." Next we worshipped, led by three keyboards, two guitars, drums and a couple dozen choir members. Was the music old, or contemporary?
'When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be,
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory.'
I blew the dust off my memory banks and sang. An old fellow sang, 'His Eye is On The Sparrow,' to canned music.
With announcements and the offering, Pastor Warren asked if anyone new happened to be here. I raised my hand. They gave me a cool bag with plenty to read, including a Welcoming Brochure, children's ministries, missions, and upcoming Christmas fun occasions. Next they broke up for greetings and a dozen people came over to say hi to the guy with the white bag.
Pastor Jerry Warren preached from Acts 16, and indicated they'd been slogging through Acts for quite some time. Great book to slog, that's for sure. I followed in the Bible, the King James Version from the pew, and found this, verse three:
"Him would Paul have to go forth with him..."
Hopefully God won't strike me with lightning, but this is what I thought: Isn't that how Yoda would say it? Can't you see the little Star Wars gremlin saying that? I like, "... so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey." New Living Translation. I rest my case.
Pastor Warren wandered a bit, but always got back on track, winding it up with Paul's words to his jailer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." To get the full story, read Acts 16.
Pastor finished with an altar call and we all sang "Just As I Am." Reminds me of Billy Graham Crusades. I think they all finished with that song. Do they do altar calls every week, or just when new people arrive? No idea. I took off with my white bag, walking along the highway. Now this was interesting. Wouldn't people think, 'That's a new guy...walking down the highway.' Before I throw them under the church bus, I pondered this:
When we toured the Washington house, the tour guide mentioned if people were traveling, they would stop in anywhere and ask to stay the night. Now we have motels. Imagine if someone knocked on your door tonight with that question. And cars. We used to stop and help people if they broke down. Now we would pop the hood and be completely lost. That and people almost never break down. Finally, we have cell phones, AAA, roadside assistance vans, etc. So people don't need to stop and help others.
Therefore, we need to actively look and see how we can help others. Think outside the box.
I liked this church, in spite of the dusty songs and Bible versions. And I realized that what's more important than any programs, decorations, doctrine or preacher's charisma, is love. Love God, love others. They seemed to do both pretty good.
AND the gift bag contained Whoppers, a pen and (ding ding!) a Kit Kat bar!