hairylunch (hairylunch) wrote,


I went to church a few weeks ago. While I tend to be agnostic/atheistic, I find churches to be fascinating. I also consider myself lucky to have attended Ginghamsburg when I was growing up, and seeing a pretty impressive church.

Ginghamsburg is a large church, that looks like it's running 5 sermons a weekend and it's main campus right now. They're a pretty forward thinking group, and an impressive non-profit. The transparency they demonstrate is impressive. The Feb. 17 bulletin that goes with the sermon is a good example of their transparency. On th second page, there's a mini-financial report, stating their weekly need (a whopping $106,000), and how much they've brought in. They also use the bulletin to highlight volunteers and where they could use volunteers, and highlight ways for newcomers to get involved. They used to list attendance numbers, but this doesn't seem to be the case anymore . . . I think when I was attending, weekly attendance was around 3,000. The other neat thing about that church is how dynamic of a speaker Mike Slaughter (the pastor) is. They post his sermons online in audio and video. I've got his sermon from 2/10 playing now, and I'm still impressed by Slaughter's speaking ability - he's preaching to a house that's probably got around 1,000 people, and he still makes a one-on-one connection while preaching.

Anyway, here in Reno, I went to Grace with Nic, specifically to their Living Stones community worship, described as "Reformational Teaching with Emerging Worship."

Now, this church was interesting in that while I was waiting for Nic to get their, I saw their pastor floating around. Eventually, he wandered over to me and introduced himself. I asked him about the size of the church, and he said they draw 2,500 weekly. I was surprised to hear that since the building was much smaller than Ginghamsburg's, and they have 5 services as well. Anyway, Harvey's speaking ability wasn't as good as Slaughter's, but I was trying to keep an open mind.

The message was an interesting one, talking about the three steps to get involved, starting with the large group service, growing into small group ministries, and eventually participating in mission work to spread the word. I felt like this was a response to Willow Creek (voted the most influential church in the nation) recent report entitled Reveal. The report was another great example of transparency, with the church critically looking at their ministry. Willow Creek is sort of the father of mega-churches, with over 10,000 in attendance, and spreading the word to incredible numbers. The report was interesting in that they reported that they found that their ministry, while reaching many, wasn't resulting in deeper faith. (You can read all kinds of blogs about this.) Still, it's awesome to see an organization being so transparent, and really doing the evaluation part that so many groups skip. Too many non-profits seem to believe they're doing good w/o doing the evaluation.

It was interesting to see that Grace did have Bibles throughout the seats, and rather than showing verses on the screen, they had people look them up.

I got thrown off early on in the sermon though when he's talking about a temple, and shows this image on screen (I think it was this temple), and he makes some comment about how the bricks were as big as the room we were in, and how massive they were. What-the-hell? We were in a room that must have been something like 100'x150'x20' or something ridiculous. Yes, large stones were used to build the ancient pyramids, but nothing that absurd . . .

Anyway, just some random thoughts . . .

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