The wife and I checked out a new church on Sunday. And by new I mean brand new. It was started not too long ago by the former youth pastor at my in-law's church. I'm not sure what all lead him to quit his old church and start this new one, but I do recall something about his wanting to reach out to the pomo generation, do the emergent church thing or something like that. I wanted to go mostly out of curiosity because of that and because the church presently meets in a really nice movie theater. It was, admittedly, more than a bit disconcerting to walk into "church" and see a bunch of movie posters and gigantic cardboad cutouts of kids moview characters. But there were a lot of younger couples there, which was encouraging to the wife and me. We've been here close to 2 years and really haven't made any new friends not directly related to work or school.
The service was fine. The sermon maybe started a little rough but he got it together pretty quickly and came to a good, challenging conclusion at the end. The music was also good, with, I think, a good song selection, not too much repetition and worshipful without that overly forced worshipfulness that seems to afflict a lot of worship leaders nowadays. One thing it definitely was not was 'emergent.' It seemed pretty straight forward and evangelical to me, just with a younger pastor and congregation. There are a few other churches we want to check out, but its made the short list of those that warrant a repeat visit.
Couple of things that bugged me and the wife, though. There was the ubiquitous church bulletin with the little card asking for name, address, interests, 'faith response', etc. First, they asked everyone to fill out the card so that "we'll have a record of your attendance." A record of my what?! Am I back in grade school? Am I going to get a perfect attendance award at the end of the year? No. At least I don't think so, though that might draw more people to come. A nice little trophy or a plaque of some sort could be just the thing to fill the seats. I never got one in elementary school - now might be my chance!
The second annoying thing was that at the end of this otherwise good and challenging sermon, the pastor asked everyone to "journal our thoughts" on said little card and to drop them in the offering basket as it comes by. Now, this isn't a large card. It isn't even a 3x5 card. It was 3x3, maybe 3x4, but that was pushing it. And one side was completely covered in the name-address-faith commitment-interested in serving stuff. Heaven forbid you actually wanted to "journal your thoughts" you wouldn't have had room to do more than a line or two. Three if you wrote really, really small. And they immediately transitioned into a song that the worship leader asked us to stand up for. I'm not sure what kind of journalling response they were hoping for but I'm pretty sure they didn't get it. Don't try some new little activity unless you're actually going to structure things to do that little activity. So no more journalling in church. Unless you really need that 'A' to make up for a bad attendance record.