|The talented and amazing Ben and Anita Tatlow|
Last week we continued our journey through churches based on what we are finding online. Another shout out to those of you in church leadership: YOUR WEBSITE MATTERS! New people are looking for churches through the web and if you aren't up to speed, you will get passed over.
We ended up at The Rock church in Palm Desert last Sunday. Unsure of what to expect, we were intrigued that the lead pastor was Hispanic and associate African American. The lead pastor is also a skateboarder so we were a little curious. We arrived a few minutes late and walked into a darkened sanctuary that felt like a concert atmosphere. The music was so loud that at that moment I felt every bit my 55 years and more! I could hardly stand it! And speaking of stand, we had to stand for more than 30 minutes from the moment we walked in and found our chairs. As we came in, the ushers greeted us, and handed us a little cup asking if we wanted to take communion. Hmmm...this is different. But we're up for different.
Anyway...we didn't know any of the songs. We didn't enjoy all the standing. There was much cheering and arm raising, which is OK even if it's not my style. I appreciated that the band was very talented and all young people. And the congregation was very young and quite diverse. But the sermon was thin. I leaned over to Doug and said, "I feel like I'm at the campfire of a Jr. High camp getting ready to throw a stick on the fire to re-dedicate my life to Jesus." And when it came time to take the offering, well, the introductory remarks smacked a bit too much of a health and wealth gospel. "I give this money trusting that God will bless me and multiply it."
But the real memorable bit of the morning came with the communion 'liturgy' and I use that term loosely. The pastor gave an elementary explanation of what it means to partake in the Lord's supper and put too much emphasis on our being worthy as opposed to Christ making us worthy. Then when it came time to share, he asked us to remove the thin cellophane wrap from the top and lo and behold, there sat the wafer. After we took the wafer, we opened up the cup and sipped it down. All-in-one self-contained communion. Had never seen that before. Two thoughts...too much waste. Could be useful in situations where sanitation is a real issue.
We left before the service ended because the announcements were going on and on and we knew we weren't going to come back and we didn't want to stand for 15 more minutes as we sang the closing music that would probably be too loud for us anyway.
We both remarked that we're glad that people are drawn to this congregation and being nurtured in their Christian faith. Except for the health and wealth business, they seem to be do some good things in young peoples' lives. I wish them well but it's clear that The Rock will not become our spiritual home here in the desert.