Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The G. S. E.: Church C

So this Sunday we ventured forth for another installment of the Great Sociological Experiment! This time we visited another Baptist church, but one *very different* from Church A. Church C was founded in 1902, and maintained that "traditional" feel in terms of the sanctuary and facilities. It also proudly proclaimed itself as Southern Baptist, both on its website and in the bulletin. Oh, and no lobster tank! Instead, the baptismal pool was discreetly tucked away - visible to the entire congregation of course - but not clear-sided like what you find in Red Lobster.

I think powerpoint has become ubiquitous. Thppt. And they also had drums. But no electric guitars... just a piano, clarinet, flutes, and some brass... non-amplified. We sang a mix of music, some from the Baptist Hymnal and others from the current praise music scene. The choir was large, but surprisingly unenthusiastic. (More on that in the next paragraph.)

Here's an interesting side note, though. We suspect this congregation is currently in a crisis about their music styles. There were many more seniors attending, and from where we were stitting not a single one sang the praise music. They stood there stonily, not even pretending to sing (as one often does when one doesn't know the music). When we sang the hymns, though, the older folks were much more participatory. (Heck, who wouldn't sing along to "Victory in Jesus"??) So we think there's a conflict with the music leaders - the seniors don't hold for that new-fangled stuff! And we both noticed it independently, so it was pretty obvious.

The preaching was definitely of the "old-style Baptist". He said some good things. Using John 15:3-5... we should be cleansed from sin, then cling to Jesus, then cultivate ourselves in that relationship in Christ. Still, it's hard getting used to a 45 minute sermon!

This service was by far more comfortable than Church A. Church A was just so... LOUD. Too much flash and not enough time for prayer, maybe. Or when there was time for prayer, the music was still overpowering. At Church C there was a much better balance of prayer, and worship, and message.

I'm still not sure about their small group/sunday school offerings. There wasn't much info in the bulletin, and their website failed on that count as well. I just don't see any indication of a broad small group program of any kind. There's a college ministry, and a seniors ministry. and a singles ministry (The singles ministry, which has an announcement for a trip to Atlanta "Singles! Join us for a Braves game, and bring your family!" A little dissonant, eh? I know what they meant, but it just sounded wierd phrased that way.) But there's nothing on any other small group options.

So the experiment continues!


Blondie said...

As a recovering Baptist, I can say with almost 100% certainty that the church you attended (and I have no idea where you went) is on the verge of an implosion. Been there, done that, and the music is only a symptom. Without writing a book here, I can say that not only have I seen this first hand, but in many other churches as well.

Yes, I am cynical...

Zana said...

Blondie, I would love to know more about your first hand experience. There was so obviously a wierd social dynamic of some kind going on. Feel free to email.. or we can talk about it when we get together during labor day weekend! 8-)