When I am on vacation, I like to visit other churches for Sunday morning worship. This last week was no exception. I decided upon a church I had never heard of but one that looked contemporary. It was only 8 years old, but was already running four services on the weekend.
We had a difficult time finding the church, but finally arrived about 10 minutes late. Pulling into the parking lot we saw the "Visitor/Handicap Parking" area and parked there. We were greeted at the door and given a bulletin. The worship space was located immediately to the right of the nice, two-story lobby area complete with Welcome Center, Coffee Bar, and areas to sit and chat. The worship center was plain, blackened out ceiling, plush detachablbe chairs and at stage. The band was lead by a female worship leader.
I noticed that the congregation was not participating in the song. It was a new song to me so perhaps it was to them. However, the band slowed things down with a contemporized version of "Jesus Paid it All." The congregation sang very well on that song.
Next, the High School pastor led us in a time of communion. He pointed out that there were communion stations set up throughout the room and we were invited to get the elements, sit down and take them as we felt ready. While we were getting the elements the keyboard player and worship leader provided appropriate music.
I noticed that many people took this time seriosly. Many bowed their heads and were praying. After I took the elements, I looked at my son and noticed he was praying. I was very pleased to see how seriously he took communion.
Next the pastor preached. He preached a very traditional salvation message. There were no big skits, or video clips (although I am sure he uses those things). The message was very simple. I had a sermon insert but could not take notes. I didn't have a pen and there were no pins in the chairs. (They didn't have a place for pens or communion cups). So I listened.
At the invitation, he invited anyone who was willing to accept God's free gift of savlation to stand. Apparently someone did because he thanked them. Afterwards, he asked all of us to stand and we were dismissed. Those who made decisions were asked to come to the front and me with the pastor and get a packet.
All in all it was a good service. I am so used to being up front that it was refreshing and interesting to sit in the congregation. I tried to resist the temptation to critic and constantly prayed for God to open my heart. Of course, I knew the content of the message before he preached it (I guessed most of the blanks before he got to them!).
I think every Christ follower should take the opportunity of vacation to visit other churches. It is great to worship with God's people-even if you don't know any of them. It is encouraging to see that God is at work everywhere not just in your little corner of the world.