Today we visited a large church, Mid-Cities Community Church, midway between Odessa and Midland, Texas. It is a beautiful church, done in old European style. You enter in through a foyer passing a round statue and sitting area just outside the doors. You are greeted by several folks (a bit overdone) wishing you a good day in a sincere way. Oh, the parking lot is well staffed with friendly traffic helpers. We asked where visitors park and were told, “Wherever you want to”.
We were a few minutes early so visited a sitting area that was full of coffee, juice, donuts and other breakfast items and plenty of people partaking in this bounty. There was a flat screened television in this room, as well as the foyer, that had news and announcments as well as a countdown as to when the next service was to begin. I especially liked that part, as it gave an idea of what was next.
As it was Easter the sanctuary was very full. We had ten people with us and no place where we all could find a place to sit together. I asked one of the ushers if we could sit in the pew that was roped off, he said they were trying to push people forward since they were going to have a large crowd. When I told him our number he readily agreed to let us sit in the pew that was roped off in the back.
The music was led by a song leader and orchestra that have to have had at least 25 members. The music was excellent, but for me it felt more like a performance than a worship experience. It was a typical evangelical service in many ways as we sang three songs, shook hands with our neighbor next to us and heard a sermon.
The sermon was 25 minutes and was good, but not great. It being Easter I was surprised there was not more emphasis placed on non-believers than believers. The message made an assumption we knew why you would want to be a Christian, rather than explaining how and why. There was an attempt made to show how Christ could change your life with a cardboard sign display at the end. I have seen this many times before and thought it “tired” but my kids quickly corrected me and told me it was “awesome” and they loved it.
Overall it was enjoyable, but was not a moving experience, or even one that provoked much thought. It did evoke emotion, which is usually the goal in an evangelical and non-denominational church. I thought it slightly manipulative toward the end with the use of personal cardboard signs. We were asked to mimic those that carried large cardboard signs on stage with one side before Christ and the other sign after Christ. We had miniature signs we were asked to fill out and share with a stranger or friend, awkward I think.
The service lasted 75 minutes. It was done with excellence and attention to detail. The use of media was good, not overdone, but certainly used to engage the audience. If I were grading, I would give it a B plus. If you are a big church fan you would feel right at home. However if small churches are your thing, well you might feel a bit lost.
Next week a smaller church, maybe even Lutheran. Until then, be blessed.