Lauren and I visited the local Vineyard church yesterday.  As it turns out, local includes Windsor and Loveland, too.  The curch is multi-site, video venue church.  All of the separate campuses have their own pastor and worship, however the sermon is broadcasted live from one of the auditoriums in Fort Collins to each of the other campuses.  Had we know this was going to be the case we might have chosen to attend the “Vineyard-style rock band, and a lively celebration” service instead of the “unplugged vocal-driven worship style in an intimate atmosphere.”  I’m not a fan of video venue churches, so I think I could handle it a bit more if I was in the same building as the person preaching.  Maybe my issue with this method of church comes from seeing some pastors raised to celebrity status in evangelical churches.  The video venue model perpetuates that in my opinion.

My issue with our visit was not primarily with the video preaching it was but with the fact that no one really welcomed us.  We didn’t feel welcome at the church.  Sure, the guys holding the front doors open said, “Good morning” to us, but that was about it.  There was that uncomfortable time during the service when the person up front tells everyone to get up and “greet someone new” and a few people stopped by to tell us their names.  Other than exchanging names with people no one made any attempt to truly welcome us.  In fact, the first couple to introduce themselves made Lauren feel so unwelcome that she left the room for a bit.  The most unfortunate aspect about all of this is that there were around 50 people during the service (this includes staff people, too).  No one asked what we do for work/school.  No one asked us if we had visited before.  If we had gone to the service with hundreds of people in it I would be a bit more tolerant of this, but in a group of 50 people, with over 15 people working in some capacity, no one made us feel welcome.  Shame on the bride of Christ for acting this way.  Shame on me for all the time I could have talked to someone new, but never did.

My experience wasn’t all bad though.  It has been over two years since I have felt comfortable in a traditional church setting, but yesterday I didn’t experience the same anxiety that I have felt in the past.  The preacher taught about Jesus.  Not self-help.  Not a prosperity gospel. But he preached about Jesus and forgiveness.  In my time away from churches I cannot get away from Jesus.  In fact the farther I have moved away from church, the closer I get to seeing how absolutely central God’s incarnation is to Christian theology.

So there’s a little church update, for those of you who might care.  peace