Another day of church-hopping

January 23, 2006

I use to criticize “church-hoppers,” and I am still not in favor of those who cannot make a commitment to a local church. I do not want to excuse my current situation, but after spending 6 years in vocational ministry, my family is taking the time to simply visit for a month or two with varied styles of churches to see what they are doing. Today was no different.

This morning, we hit the 10:30 service at North Cincinnati Community Church. Although a “community church” by name, they are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (as opposed to the liberal extreme: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)). They had a nice facility, and the people were very friendly. Overall, it was a good experience. The pastor, Walter Wood, was a little more “dry” than what I am used to. I would liked to have seen more energy in their services. Despite these small criticisms, one cannot deny the church must be doing something right. Not yet into its teenage years (the church is 12 years old), they have grown to likely more than 600 in weekend attendance (this is a guess). They are in process of laying out a vision plan for the coming years, as well. Of course, with my background, I want to examine the musical program, and I was pleased. Despite not having a staff person dedicated to it (although their plan is to add such), the music was very organized, tasteful, and well done. It was a decent blend of modern and ancient in a contemporary style.

At 4:30 today (actually we were about 7 minutes late), we visited with Lifeland Community Church. Although, I intend to use the “community” term if God permits me to plant a church, I will have to admit that you never know what you’re going to get when you walk into a “community church.” Lifeland is pastored by Chad Fagerland. We had dinner with the Fagerlands this past Friday night. Chad is a tremendous and genuine guy, and I really hope God continues to use him at Lifeland. The worship could not have been more different than this morning. Lifeland will celebrate its one-year birthday next weekend, so it is considerably smaller than North Cincinnati (between 30 and 40 in attendance today). They are in a borrowed facility, but they deal with it well. We sat in chairs around square tables that had candles burning in the center. There was some florescent lighting used during the teaching, but the lights were dimmed for the worship response. Incidentally, they begin with a discussion/interaction time, followed by the pastoral teaching on the theme (“character” in the life of Daniel was today’s theme). After the teaching, the community is invited to respond in worship. This worship is accompanied by music, but you are free to go to 3-4 worship alters for prayer and/or communion. It was an experiential time. I was completely comfortable with the entire service, although the worship experience was different than most. In closing, we were led in the Apostle’s Creed and a benediction of blessing spoken over us by the pastor.

It has been a good day, and it has been good to spend these moments with these two churches. I am not sure that I could make either my home. I would certainly differ with North Cincinnati on the issue of baptism. I would hold to a “Believer’s baptism” rather than infant baptism. This, for me, is a non-essential. It would not cause me to break fellowship with them, and I am content to agree to disagree. I don’t consider baptism necessary for salvation, and I can understand their argument. However, their argument lacks significant scriptural support and consistency.

Lifeland is affiliated with Assemblies of God. They would certainly hold to a different teaching on spiritual gifts than I would. Again, I would consider this a non-essential, and I would not break fellowship over it. If, they believe the extreme that the manifestation of tongues is essential for salvation, then it would no longer be a non-essential and would redefine the gospel. I will save more thoughts on this for another post, in another day.

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2 Responses to “Another day of church-hopping”

  1. […] In a conversation with some new (Christian) friends, the history of my vocation was discussed in which I told them that I was most recently on staff at a Baptist church. They quickly (without shame) responded to this with, “Oh, you’re one of those.” What was I to do, I was on the defensive now. I did not want to stand in support of what every person who labeled themselves a “Baptist” had done, nor did I want to disregard the many godly, compassionate, freedom-loving Baptists that I have been in fellowship with. Not to mention the fact that I do align most closely with Baptistic theology. On another post this week, I made reference to “Community” churches and the lottery that is inherent in visiting one of these. You really never know what to expect. […]

  2. […] I have labeled this post “Another ‘Community Church,’” because this is the 3rd “Community Church” that we have visited within a month’s time (see prevous post). I must reiterate here that you never know what you are going to get. In this case, the plant is part of the Church of God (Anderson) denomination. This is a major strike mark against them from my perspective. Here are some of the beliefs from my COG brethren (I would disagree with the majority of these statements): The Church of God, as well as other Holiness Churches, as well as the Methodist Church they came out of, teach a salvation by grace thru faith in the Lord Jesus Christ initially, but one must maintain good WORKS and remain faithful to the Lord in order to remain saved, as do all other Holiness Churches. Thus many outside observers would say this is a salvation of grace plus works. Instead of receiving the free gift of Eternal Life, Holiness Churches teach one receives PROBATIONARY LIFE when one trusts Christ as Saviour. […]

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