Monday, November 9, 2009

Who's Drinking the Kool-Aid?

This past weekend my wife and I visited a very large, very successful church in another state. We went with leadership from our own church and our purpose was to observe things they do well, that we might adopt as we move forward in launching a satellite church in our home town. The impressive aspect of what they did, was in the fact that they set up and break down church in a local high school auditorium with the help of MANY volunteers.

As I have mentioned in past BLOGS, I am extremely happy with my church, its philosophy, and the atmosphere we create. However we realize that to keep folks on fire for the Lord, you have to shake things up, you have to take advantages of opportunities to improve and you have to be willing to fail. The church we visited this past weekend ( I won't mention the name or location because they are doing wonderful things and I don't want to place ANY negative impression on what they are doing.) is very similar to our own church in many ways, non traditional with modern Christian music rather than hymns. The Pastor is very young, very energetic and without a doubt he is bringing people to the Lord. They have grown from nil to more than 4000 members in just over 3 years. WOW!!

Here is some of what they do well:
  • Technology - Incredible electronics for visual and sound systems.
  • With that technology, an incredibly talented group of musicians leading the worship.
  • Volunteers.Hundreds of them make it happen EVERY Sunday. The people ARE the church.
  • Production: They create a great experience for first timers with greeters everywhere. They put on a show for sure.
That brings me to what I think they either didn't do well or didn't feel good to me and understand I am talking about me which may not be that significant. Here's what I didn't love:

  • The music was AWESOME,  original and WAY TOO LOUD!!! I could feel the base from the drums vibrating my shirt. In case you thinking I'm just being an old fuddy duddy, I went to see KISS in concert a few weeks ago and they were not as loud as this church. My ears were hurting and I don't recall being offered ear plugs as I walked in. How could I take my 80 year old Grannie to this?
  • Energy overkill - When you watch infomercials you often see the pitch men get so exited that you know any second they are going to pee themselves. The excitement and the energy is fabricated because nobody goes ape crap for a juicer. There is a HUGE difference between Jesus and a juicer and I realize Jesus is certainly something to get exited about.  However, do I believe you are that excited? I kind of got that same feeling of fabricated excitement from the pastor and the guest speaker/preacher as well.  They were certainly not unlike Rock-star preachers and I was almost giggled at the stench of egos. I am all for some getting fired up for Jesus. I love it. However, I have a strong sense of genuine and I simply felt more ego than love.
  • There was also some methodology in which volunteers were obtained that seemed a bit militant. I won't go into any detail here but I got the feeling that if a fellow is strattlin the fence for too long that the leadership will just push them off the fence, outside the pasture and wish them well.
The one thing I can't deny here is that the formula from which they are using is working and the locals are certainly "drinking the kool-aid". I don't mean that in a bad way because after all we all end up drinking the kool-aid when we start serving Jesus. If I could sum my experience in a short thought, it would be this: It didn't seem to have something for everyone and it didn't feel sincerely genuine.

I like the flavor of the Kool-Aid at my Rockbridge Community Church. Less ego, fewer rock stars, more love for Jesus and each other. Thank you Jesus for placing me here. Cheers!

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