We had to drive by two locations to find the church, because the internet had two addresses. I guess they have changed locations recently. So we were late, but we could hear the music and we walked in and sat near the back.
I was quite impressed by the number of ministries they are involved in. Apparently, this was a Sunday of "recruitment" for volunteers for their many programs and we heard about each one of them. They participate in many local ministries and also provide international ministry opportunities. This is very important to me, I believe we MUST follow the teachings of Jesus and help the homeless and the poor, if we are to truly consider ourselves Christians.
The pastor was young and charismatic, and full of life... and even though I knew the text and had studied it myself, I was glad to see that he actually "studied" the scriptures and was able to offer his listeners a more complete understanding of the customs of the time, which explains why certain words and phrases are used. Without this knowledge, it is impossible to fully comprehend the messages of the scriptures.
I was pleased again, when I heard the pastor say NOT to give a tithe or offering if you could not give it gladly.
So far, so good.
Then it happened.
There were tables set up outside for people to find out more information and sign up to help with the many wonderful ministries provided to the community by this church. The side doors were opened and the left side of the auditorium was urged to go out while the rest of the church was to gather in small groups of six or seven to pray for the community.
Well, it was our first Sunday and so we didn't really feel comfortable "gathering" with a small group, nor were we ready to commit to a project. Plus, we don't actually live in that community, we traveled 15 miles to attend this church.
We just wanted to fill out the visitor card (for my daughter) and turn it in. The bulletin, or program, said to turn it in at the front office on your way out. So, we headed for the front door, which was also the way we entered.
We were stopped and told we had to exit by the side doors today, where the tables were set up. WHAT??? You've got to be kidding me, I thought. This pastor, who just said he didn't want the tithes of anyone who couldn't give gladly, now wants to "force" the congregation to exit, one third at a time, where they will have to walk by the ministry tables. Hmmm.
Hypocrisy means that you profess a certain set of beliefs, while not actually living by those beliefs.
I guess they want you to sign up to volunteer, whether you mean it or not. If they're lucky enough that the "coaxed" souls who sign up actually show up, then I guess it doesn't matter whether or not they do THAT joyfully or gladly.
Hypocrisy is alive and well all over the place.
Meanwhile, we got turned around because we had never been there before, and were forced to exit into an area that was surrounded by buildings and parking lots. Finally, I went back to the front of the building so I could figure out where we parked.
Not a good experience.
They actually did one more thing that I thought was very good. When the gentleman touched my shoulder to instruct me to exit on the side of the building, a lady overheard me explaining to him that I needed to turn in the visitor card. She came up and welcomed us and even gave us a gift bag with more information about the church and their mission. It even included a little jar of preserves!
Now THAT shows that you welcome visitors and new members!
Can't wait to see how my daughter likes the college class.
Final decision on this church? Pending further deliberation.