My Visit to Deer Grove Covenant Church

Those of you who have participated in the Bloggernacle for any length of time have no doubt electronically met my friend Bridget Jack Meyers (who goes by “Jack”). She’s an evangelical who attended and graduated from BYU in classics (the same thing I studied at BYU many years ago), which makes her a delightsome oddity and led to our immediate bonding. Now she’s pursuing graduate work in Illinois.

When she moved here, she underwent a process of selecting a new church, which I found fascinating, since for Mormons it’s just a matter of figuring out which ward covers the geographic area where you are moving to. She chronicled her search at her blog. The eventual winner of the sweepstakes was Deer Grove Covenant Church. Their website is here, and the picture you see there is exactly what it looked like today. When I learned it is located in Palatine, which is the village just to the north of where I live, I expressed an interest in visiting for a service, and several weeks ago we agreed on today as the appointed date. (I would have to blow off my own church to go; oh, darn!)

So I printed off my mapquest directions and drove up there. They temporarily meet in a high school while they work on rehabbing a building of their own. I walked through the front doors of the high school and saw a pleasant bunch of people milling around, and eventually I saw Jack waiving at me (she’s quite tall and so hard to miss). Her husband Paul, whom I’ve met before in Provo, was there (he attends once a month with Jack and attends his LDS ward the other weeks), as well as their (very cute!) three-year old daugher, Harley. Jack needed to take Harley to the nursery, which as I understand it she absolutely loves. That gave me a chance to meet and chat with the pastor, a woman named Melissa Wall. I told Melissa I had followed Jack’s search on her blog, and that I was confident she was going to select Deer Grove, which she in fact did. (Jack is what is called an egalitarian as opposed to a complementarian; if you’re interested in that topic, search on those terms at her blog.) Melissa was very personable and a delight. (She is also simply gorgeous. When Jack came back, she asked me how I liked her hot pastor. She and Paul joked that Paul decided she could attend this church when he met her. That banter put me at ease, because I didn’t want to say anything about how pretty she was, but their joking about it allowed me to acknowledge that, yes, I had noticed.)

At that point it was time for the service to start (10:30 a.m.). We walked into an auditorium with stadium-style seating, which was a good thing, since our little group was all tall and we could sit without obstructing anyone’s view. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed the service. They had a “worship team” of about 8 people, younger men and women, who would lead us in the musical numbers. There was one guy on guitar, a bass, drums, and a girl on violin at certain points. I panicked a little bit, because there were no hymnals laying around, and more than half of the reason I even go to church is so that I can sing. But as it turned out they broadcast the words to the songs on a big screen up front, and the songs were very easy to follow. It was obviously very different from a Mormon service, but I enjoyed it for exactly that reason.

There was a table down front with an open Bible and a number of burning candles, which caught my notice since we Mormons don’t allow candles due to our fire insurance policies. They didn’t do communion; Jack told me they do it about once a month. When they do it, you go down front and dip a wafer in a cup of grape juice and partake in that manner.

I honestly felt a little bit nervous about the offering. Mormons don’t do an offering during their services, and so I was worried that I would breach some sort of offering etiquette. I asked my wife about it before I went, and she kind of looked at me in disgust (she grew up Lutheran) and said not to worry about it. When I went to Willow Creek before the offering they gave a little speech about how this was for members of the church and guests were not expected to contribute, which I very much appreciated. Well, at Deer Grove they gave the same speech, so all my worry about doing the right thing turned out to be for naught. As a visitor I very much appreciated that they had thought about this from the visitor’s perspective and communicated the information we needed to have.

Pastor Melissa then preached her homily. If you would like to hear it, look under Sermons at the website I linked above. I thought her sermon was excellent, and as I listened to it I was actually taking mental notes of things I would like to do the next time I am asked to speak in church. We become so accustomed to our lay speakers that we kind of forget how powerful a well prepared and given sermon can be.

There was one point during the service where they did something I’ve never seen before, called “prompted prayer.” The assistant pastor began saying a prayer, during the course of which he would prompt the audience by raising a subject (such as the tragedy at Fort Hood), and then he would go silent and individuals in the congregation would speak out and pray for the group on that subject. It was quite fascinating.

When the service was over, Jack picked up Harley from the nursery. They had pie after, but I wanted to rush home for the Bears game, which was a big mistake, as they were terrible and lost badly.

Anyway, I had a great time. It was fascinating to see such a different style of worship, but one which clearly brought the spirit of God. I tend to be a little bit jaded about Mormon services, so just experiencing something new and different was wonderful. And I was also happy to lend some support to my friend in her new church home. I especially appreciated that I was received so warmly and with such graciousness.

What experiences have you had visiting other churches?

Comments

  1. I haven’t visited another church since July 2001 and that was a Thursday evening Bible discussion. They sang enjoyable songs (some of which I remember from my Baptist youth). You make a great point about what we should learn from experienced pastors, the trained talk. Our sacrament meetings can get really boring sometimes.

  2. I’ve never been to a church that clarified their offering policy in advance- I think that’s a great idea. My friend and I once visited a church that had three(!) separate offerings- they usually had two but that week included a third for the missionaries- and you stood up, walked up to the front and deposited each time. We felt a little…fleeced.
    I love that you attended, Kevin. My very favorite thing about the bloggernacle is the real-life connections that are made and what I imagine are the ever widening ripples of those connections.

  3. Interesting. I have a good childhood friend associated with the Evangelical Covenant church, who did a PhD in Christian Ethics at Northpark University in Chicago (also associated with Evangelical Covenant.)

  4. If anybody would like to listen to the sermon Kevin & I heard today, it is available here:

    DeerGrove Covenant Church – November 8, 2009 Sermon – Pastor Melissa Wall

    It was fun to have you today, Kevin. You were a really good visitor, too—sang along with the worship songs, put up with all of our standing up and sitting down, doing the hand motions for the kiddie song, etc. I was impressed. :) Thanks for being so friendly and open about the way people from other faiths do things.

    And btw, the spontaneous prayer thing is something that’s rather new to me, too. I’ve been seeing a lot of it in this area: at the Anglican Mission in America church that was my #2 choice after DeerGrove, here at DGCC, and my Lutheran history professor has employed it for my formation group (basically, an on-campus small group). It’s something I’m still getting used to. I really don’t have the gift of saying eloquent prayers, so I’m a little shy about praying out loud in a group.

  5. #3 Nitsav ~ Pastor Melissa is a graduate of North Park University.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Well Jack, I was quite touched by your contribution to the group prayer, in which you prayed that your father would not feel too lonely during the holidays (now that you’ve moved away from the Pacific Northwest). Since my own daughter (whom you’ve met) is your same age, I deeply felt the beauty of that sentiment on your father’s behalf.

  7. While I’ve found my home in the LDS church, I love attending other worship services when the opportunity arises. I’ve felt the spirit in many places- and Kev, I’m glad you were able to attend with Jack and her family. Broadening our horizons is never a bad thing.

  8. And Jack, thanks for the link- as soon as I get the kids in bed, I’m hitting it up!

  9. Natalie B. says:

    I went to a Catholic school, and all of my favorite Christian songs come from the masses we had there. I love the ritual of the Catholic mass, where we are asked to stand and recite.

  10. I used to play bass guitar for the para-church evangelical student outreach group in high school. Good times.

  11. When I was a missionary, my companion and I missed a bus one cold winter afternoon and were left stranded for about an hour waiting for the next one. As luck would have it, my companion had an extremely urgent need to visit a lavatory, and because there are not generally public restrooms in Finland, we were in a bit of a panic.

    Just as time was running out, a solution to my companion’s problems appeared in the form of a JW Kingdom Hall, which oddly had a full parking lot in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. We ventured inside, and were a bit surprised to find the place deathly silent–not a noise anywhere, despite the full parking lot outside. Feeling a bit awkward, we wandered around for a while until we came upon a large room with glass walls, full of people seemingly engaged in a meeting of sorts.

    Because they hadn’t seen us, I knocked on the door to alert them–and they didn’t move. Perplexed, I knocked again. No response. Finally, although I was nervous and didn’t really know how welcome I would be, I just opened the door, went inside the room, explained out loud that we were Mormon missionaries, and that my comp really needed to pee. And…finally one person saw me, and began making what appeared to be hysterical gestures in our direction. Honestly, it scared the crap out of me.

    So, it turns out we had wandered into a deaf congregation’s Bible study. Eventually we got it all figured out, and my comp used their toilet.

  12. CJ Douglass says:

    I’ve been to various Catholic services throughout my life. Every Easter I try to go to a Good Friday Service at St. Patrick’s in Manhattan. Readings from the NT, hymns and gothic architecture is a great recipe for the spirit.

    I’ve been to mosque a few times – but of course was not able to participate in prayer. Still, I felt an amazing reverence there.

    I had a great experience recently as I was walking home from my ward services (my family was out of town). I walked past the brooklyn tabernacle right as their afternoon worship service was starting. I couldn’t avoid jumping in for a peek. The people were so friendly, the music was amazing and the spirit was definitely there.

    Let me just also add that, this morning I heard two humble sisters give talks about temple work and the power of sacred covenants – it rocked me to my core…

  13. My husband and I attended an Episcopalian church with his grandmother when we visited her a while back. First of all the church was gorgeous. Stained glass windows, Gothic-style doors, labyrinth in the front courtyard, and an awesome library. I loved how they used candles during the service. It was beautiful!

    We recited the Nicean creed, and then a prayer that was printed in the program. The prayer included a list of apologies to Christ for things we had done wrong during the week (“I am sorry for neglecting my neighbor”, etc), and we concluded by saying that we knew Christ would forgive us for these things.

    As I recited the list, I realized that I must have actually done all these things that week, and that Christ WOULD forgive me for all of it, and I had tears in my eyes by the end. It was an incredible experience. Participating in a new kind of service forced me to pay attention to a message I might have taken for granted in an LDS setting. Plus, I love ritual, so any time that’s included it’s a bonus. And then we had snacks afterward. People brought in their extra produce, and they welcomed any random person off the street (literally) who wanted to participate.

  14. Hi Kevin! I grew up in your stake and I am a regular reader, so I just wanted to say hi.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the shout out, Jill!

  16. CJ Douglass, I think I’m in your ward ;)

    Going to the Brooklyn bloggersnacka?

  17. CJ Douglass says:

    Ben, I’ll be there – only if you bring Nitsav…

  18. “but their joking about it allowed me to acknowledge that, yes, I had noticed”

    Kevin, I don’t think anyone would be shocked to find out you noticed a hot chick ;-)

    As a missionary, for a while I was living in a neighborhood where a Jewish Temple was located very close by. Many of the people we talked to while knocking doors were members of this particular temple, and they were very nice people and invited my companion and I to visit there. We probably would not have done so, except that several people mentioned that their rabbi graduated from BYU.

    This seemed too good to pass up, so we went and introduced ourselves and stayed for the service, which was one of the most enjoyable church services I had ever attended. The music alone was well worth the time to experience. We liked it so much that we invited the other missionaries in our apartment to attend the next week.

    Pretty soon there were six of us going and the rabbi started to make cracks about it during his sermon, like saying that soon the Mormon missionaries were going to outnumber the members. So we stopped goiing, worried that we were becoming a distraction.

    The thing I remember best about our discussions with the rabbi (there were several and they were quite lively) was when he asked us if we knew Hugh Nibley and questioned us about our thoughts on his writing. None of us had attended BYU or had met or really read much of Nibley at that point and this disgusted him no end. He remarked several times that Nibley was the greatest thinker our church had ever produced and we were so dumb we wouldn’t know if he was alive or dead. I made a mental note to study more Nibley.

  19. This past April I attended the American Society of Church History Spring meeting in Montreal with fellow JIers Matt and Stan. We had planned ahead of time to stick around Sunday after the conference ended to tour the city, and after seeing the beautiful Catholic cathedrals in the city, made it a point to attend Mass. We lucked out (at least in my opinion) and ended up attending the monthly Latin Mass. I’ve attended a handful of other Catholic services in my life and have always enjoyed the ritual and pomp. I’ve also attended a couple of non-denominational Bible churches and a couple of mainline Protestant services, and have enjoyed myself at each one.

    This last one doesn’t really count, but while working on my thesis chapter treating early 19th century Methodist camp meetings, I dreamt I was in attendance at one particularly charismatic revival, complete with folks falling onto the ground in fits and trances. It was all quite intense, and I was both disappointed and relieved when I woke up and realized it was only a dream.

  20. The church I’ve started attending also announces visitors are not expected to contribute to the offering. But they also give a portion of their offering to a local charity and they always give information about what that charity is — once it was a group that worked with the mentally ill, helping them live more independently, once it was an organization that assists people who are in danger of becoming homeless, etc. Even as a visitor I felt their causes were very worth contributing to! I was and am grateful they provide so many opportunities to help others.

  21. Whenever there is not childcare at LDS meetings (stake conference, etc) we tend to visit another church, preferrably with friends. Our favorite has been an evangelical Lutheran church, but we also loved the academic Catholic parish. We loved the Sikh langar, but of course we didn’t understand a word of the worship service. There are certainly some that fell flat for us, but I won’t name them out of respect for their traditions. I think we’re slated for Episcopalians next–we’ve been used to the Brahmin Episcopalian tradition in Boston, so I’ll be curious to see what it’s like in the West. We love and are committed to the LDS Church. We also enjoy sharing the love of God with other faith groups a few times a year.

  22. MikeInWeHo says:

    What is the Brahmin Episcopal tradition, smb?

  23. Mike, I think Sam is just using the old Boston terminology of “Brahmins” for the very wealthy founding families of Boston: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Brahmins.

  24. MCQ- that’s a great story! Had I found the LDS faith, I likely would have joined the Jewish temple near my house. I love the atmosphere of learning and academia that accompanied the classes I took.

  25. …not found… not.

  26. Rob Perkins says:

    Once our neighborhood Catholics actually finish their church about a mile and a half from here, I absolutely want to take my kids to a full mass celebration.

    And if I ever find myself in Palatine… (hmm…) this is enough of an endorsement for me to come and see.

  27. When I visited the local Episcopal church, I was impressed with the choir and the sermon. I didn’t do the kneeling thing. An older lady in the next pew struck up a conversation, and upon learning I was LDS she suggested I was a spy sent by the Mormons. So much for Episcopalianism: they’ll welcome gays and lesbians with open arms, but a Mormon shows up on Sunday and they think you’re a spy. I had a nice conversation with the priest.

    I visited the local UU congregation a couple of times — that’s what the Unitarians call themselves since they hooked up with the Universalists. I enjoyed the laid back approach and the informed sermon, which was followed by a Q&A between congregants and pastor which worked a lot like LDS Sunday School, except the politics were liberal rather than conservative. At the end everyone gets in a big circle and hold hands while singing a love hymn. That creeped me out.

    So while I understand how some active LDS do get a bit jaded at times by our three-hour block of Sunday meetings, I am quite happy with it compared to the available alternatives. Watching a photogenic “worship team” backed by guitar, bass, and drums sounds entertaining … it just doesn’t have much in common with the informal sobriety, even dignity, that is evident in New Testament accounts of how the early saints met and worshipped. No offense, Jack — it’s nice your family has found a welcoming church you and they enjoy attending together.

  28. Interesting post, and comments. Thanks. I’ve attended Catholic (both mainline and traditional Latin mass), Lutheran, Episcopalian (both mainline and break-off traditionalist), Evangelical, and Methodist services. So, I feel like I have some sense for the various Christian denominations out there, but I’ve never attended a single Jewish or Muslim service. Too bad.

    This thread reminds me of what Mitt Romney said during his well-known “Faith in America” speech during his failed campaign:

    “I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.”

  29. Oh, please, Dave. I sing in an Episcopal choir, and many of the members are good friends. They tease me about not drinking at their parties, but they always invite me. Methinks your brush is a bit broad.

    Also, the Unitarians and Universalists became affiliated in 1961–it’s hardly a recent development for them to call themselves UUs.

    Finally, there’s HARDLY enough information in the NT about the style of early Christian worship services to justify your snottiness to Jack about her church. There’s certainly nothing that remotely justifies our worship style there either.

  30. Back when I was a graduate music student at UCLA, on Sunday mornings I would play the organ for LDS Priesthood Meeting, then play the organ for Catholic Mass, then go to the Lutheran Church to conduct the choir and play the organ for Worship Service, followed by LDS Ward Choir Rehearsal, and then play the organ for LDS Sacrament Meeting. The 3-hour block messed things up so I began singing in the Seventh Day Adventist Choir on Saturdays.

  31. Kevin, I’m sorry to hear that Brother Wisenhunt did not make your Bears feel more at home yesterday. I thought Brother Warner’s delivery of the sermon was exceptional, although I was question why Brother Leinart was asked to team teach. His delivery was not as good.

  32. #6 Kevin ~ Thanks for the kind words about my prayer for my father. He was kind of upset with me for dragging his only granddaughter across the country after we lost my mother last year. I really do feel bad for him, but I felt so strongly that Trinity was the right choice for us and that it was time to move on with my life. (He wanted me to go to Multnomah in Portland or Fuller Northwest in Seattle.)

    Hopefully once we’ve stabilized here, I’ll be able to afford to fly out and see him a few times a year.

    #27 Dave ~ it just doesn’t have much in common with the informal sobriety, even dignity, that is evident in New Testament accounts of how the early saints met and worshipped.

    I’m a little bit surprised to see you taking this shot, Dave. I usually expect more even-handedness from you. There is ample evidence that the New Testament Christians conducted their services in accordance with what meshed well with their surrounding culture—asking women to wear head coverings, forbidding jewelry and braided hair, allowing those gathered to ask questions of the speakers. Things which both Mormons and evangelicals have dropped from their meetings because they don’t mean the same thing to our culture as they did to that of the early Christians.

    Guitars, keyboards and drums are considered perfectly dignified and appropriate in our culture. Mormons are some of the few who automatically write them off as undignified and irreverent, and if they really want to judge other Christianities based on what their narrow subculture teaches about how worship ought to be done, I say that’s their loss.

  33. I have a lot of affection for the Episcopal/Anglican tradition. Kristine was right re: Boston Brahmins. I have sort of wondered how Episcopalianism would function outside an environment of power, the main gist of my comment. The UU tradition in Boston is generally great–my wife did a book with their press, and part of the book tour was at the main UU church in Cambridge, and we had a great time both at the book tour and the church. I wonder also how well UU functions outside places like Boston.

  34. In the few times I’ve attended other church services, I’ve never felt I’ve gotten much from them. A big part of it came from my own personal wariness of the unknown (hard to feel the Spirit when you’re “on guard”), part of it is that I really don’t like style-over-substance speaking (which I feel is more common from the pros than the lay speaker), and part is my personal aversion to ceremony (the temple ceremony was very hard for me to choke down at first).

    I think one’s frame of mind is by far the biggest influence over whether one gets anything from any church service, LDS or not.

  35. “part of it is that I really don’t like style-over-substance speaking (which I feel is more common from the pros than the lay speaker),”

    Seriously? From folks who think reading from Reader’s Digest or Especially for Mormons is an appropriate use of time in a worship service? I’m frankly astonished at this critique. The “pros” are often pros because they’ve spent YEARS studying the scriptures full-time.

    We Mormons need to get out more.

  36. Kristine,

    I wasn’t trying to take a cheap shot at professional clergy. I think the population at large likes style — theatrics, even. Consequently, the pros tend to use it (and so do Mormon pros — it works great for EFY). I think it works for a lot of people, too. Just because something strikes me as a platitude doesn’t mean it isn’t inspirational for someone else.

    Personally, I prefer our ward’s lay speakers, even though some lack both style and substance. I think it may just be because I know them, and feel close to them.

  37. “Personally, I prefer our ward’s lay speakers, even though some lack both style and substance. I think it may just be because I know them, and feel close to them.”

    I completely agree. But I think there is something completely different going on in that case than what happens in most (non-LDS) church services, so suggesting that their sermons fall short because they are more style than substance is missing the point. In LDS culture, giving talks is part of a much larger community-building project that works differently than sermons that are trying to edify and/or inspire in a very different context.

  38. Martin,

    Also, thanks for a cool response to my hot-headed snotty one. Sorry!

  39. and so do Mormon pros — it works great for EFY

    (giggles to self)

  40. Jack,

    I hate to say it, but I’m with Dave on the issue of bands in church…sort of. Well, at least not until a group like U2 converts to Mormonism. If that happens, I say they get the Saturday morning session of general conference. Give the other choirs a break.

  41. Jack,

    Tell us more about this denomination. Lutheran roots?

    How does it differ from the mega evang churches? The worship style seems similar.

  42. I used to love attending other worship services when I was in college. My school was in a small town with over 100 churches, and there were lots of them within walking distance. I haven’t been to a different church since I’ve been married, though. Not enough leisure time.

    I quite enjoyed the Assembly of God service I attended, but that was actually a revival, so it may have been more awesome than usual. They had a really swinging band, though, and the people were friendly.

    My personal favorite was the Lutheran church. It was small and very low-key, but the service was lovely. I left wanting to be a Lutheran, but obviously I didn’t follow through.

  43. I’ve attended worship services in many different denominations. One memorable experience was worshipping with my Mennonite cousins. In stark contrast to the magnificent gothic buildings mentioned above, was their simple white clapboard building with wooden pews, men on one side of the aisle and women on the other, small podium in front, no pictures, no choir and hymn singing a cappella. All visiting took place in the foyer in the back, all quiet in the chapel. The message given by a humble brother (women don’t speak in church), prayers remembering missionaries and those in need, and the scripture reading in unison welcomed a reverent and loving spirit.
    Incidentally, that night one family’s dairy barn caught fire. All of the congregation was there to help salvage what they could, feed the firefighters, and care for the family. If the barn was completely paid for, with no mortgage, then it would not be insured. They rely fully on the Lord and each other. The next morning all the men would likely be back to help clean up and begin rebuilding the dairy.

  44. “Guitars, keyboards and drums are considered perfectly dignified and appropriate in our culture. Mormons are some of the few who automatically write them off as undignified and irreverent, and if they really want to judge other Christianities based on what their narrow subculture teaches about how worship ought to be done, I say that’s their loss.”

    I agree Jack. I think the same is true of the LDS prohibition of drums in Sacrament meetings in Africa.

    I think some of the aversion to guitar music (which is not prohibited in Sacrament meeting) and drums (which are generally prohibited) is generational (which is, in my opinion, the source of the aversion to “you” and “your” in prayers and to male facial hair).

    My friends in other religious traditions tell me there is sometimes a divide in congregations about types of services people prefer, and many traditions offer both “contemporary” services and “traditional” services, and people choose which they prefer. The other day I saw a set up of drums, pianos and microphone at a local Roman Catholic Church in the sanctuary.

    In our LDS tradition, for historical and uniformity purposes, we try to stick to only one style of service, and one that will offend the fewest people. While the green hymnal music lacks pizzazz, it is generally not offensive.

    Michael Hicks’ book on Mormonism and Music notes that at the time of the Restoration there were churches that believed that any music in church (and dancing anywhere) was inappropriate. By incorporating music into our services (and allowing dancing at all), the early restored Church was on the progressive side. If the Restoration had occurred in this generation, I think there would be guitars and drums in our services.

  45. My daughter and I went to the Manhattan Temple open house and stayed with friends of a friend of mine who lived in the city. We attended the Lutheran church with them before we left that Sunday. I wish I could say I had been impressed with the service but I felt the sermon was mostly political and very little religious. We had a similar experience at a New Life church near our home which we attended on a Palm Sunday prior to watching GC at the branch. The service was very lively and they also projected the words of the songs, mostly songs I had heard on Christian radio, on a big screen. The people were very friendly at both places but I did not feel the Spirit at either the way I do at a good Sacrament meeting. Maybe I should try again; I suppose it could have been my own closed mind.

  46. #40 Brian Duffin ~ The fact that different people have different tastes in worship is precisely why I think different styles need to be available. I’m the opposite of Dave. I’ve attended the LDS church approximately once a month since I married a Latter-day Saint six years ago, and have made regular visits since I began studying Mormonism eleven years ago, so I’ve had plenty of time to experience and get used to the LDS method of worship. But I’ve never adapted. It comes off to me as dry and passionless.

    That doesn’t mean that it actually is dry and passionless; it just means it’s the wrong style for me. But the beauty of evangelical Christianity is that there is choice in the matter. If you don’t like the music at my church, there are evangelical churches that are more mellow with their music.

    #41 bbell ~ The ECC has Lutheran and Pietist roots. There’s some handy information about the history of the denomination here.

    The more I’m learning about them, the more I like them. They:

    ~ Are one of the most multi-ethnic denominations in the country
    ~ Don’t take a position on Arminianism v. Calvinism (like most Lutherans)
    ~ Allow for both paedobaptism (infant baptism) and credobaptism (believer’s baptism) at the family’s discretion. They’re willing to baptize infants, but they aren’t pressuring families to have it done.
    ~ Are very egalitarian. I found DeerGrove through a page on their Web site which listed local ECC churches with women pastors. I have never seen a denomination provide a directory of its women pastors like that.
    ~ Did not get involved in Prop 8 as a denomination. Two local congregations in California contributed a total of $1,300 to supporting Prop 8, out of about 148 congregations in California. I’m pleased about that.

    In America, they’re not a huge denomination. They have about 116,000 members and 740 congregations.

    How does it differ from mega-churches? Personally, I think our style of worship is much more laid back than what I’ve seen at mega-churches, even if we do use most of the same instruments. Mega-church music is usually quite upbeat and rowdy. The music at Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill churches is so loud I can barely stand it.

    We only have about 100 people in our congregation and officially there’s only one pastor. There’s two men who are part of a “preaching team,” basically they’re associate or assistant pastors, and the pastor’s brother is the worship leader (basically a worship pastor). We’re much more close-knit than a mega-church.

    There are ECC mega-churches out there though. LifeChurch.tv aka Life Covenant Church, the 5th largest mega-church in the country, is part of the ECC.

    #44 DavidH ~ I agree with pretty much everything that you said. Great observations.

  47. CJ Douglass says:

    Jack – Not a fan of Red Letter?, Justice League? Never even been to Seattle (let alone Mars Hill). But I have to admit a guilty pleasure – Mars Hill worship music podcast…

    But frankly I shocked you’ve dropped in on Mr. Driscoll – considering his hyper-complementarianism…

  48. But frankly I shocked you’ve dropped in on Mr. Driscoll – considering his hyper-complementarianism

    Don’t even get me started.

  49. smb – my brother attends the UU church weekly in SLC. I could hook you up with him for more info. It sounds like they have a decent program, although I find it funny that they have summers off from church – church vacation anyone?

  50. Culture and worship – it is an important topic, Jack.

    You know. The church that I was mentored in . . . practiced head coverings for the ladies.

    (smiling)

  51. The church that I was mentored in . . . practiced head coverings for the ladies.

    Somehow, Todd, that doesn’t surprise me.

    But I suppose it’s still a step up from Holy Magic Hair Doctrine.

  52. Yes, more Puritan than Pentecostal.

    And you know, what reminds me the most of the externals of Puritan Sabbath worship in Idaho?

    LDS friends on Sunday.

  53. I love going to different churches to worship. Before I found the Latter-day Saints I had been going to Pentecostal church with my friend. I loved their style of worship which incorporated great music into the service in a way that practically blew the roof off that little church. The congregation put their all into it. I imagine it was similar to what early LDS services were like, with speaking in tongues and so on (no interpretation that I saw, though). One or two people would often fall out during services. It was a passionate and living thing happening every Sunday. The preacher would keep going until the crowd caught the spirit and we all felt the immanence of God. I totally understand why this would be depicted as flames over people’s heads. It was electrifying. I had been an atheist my entire adult life and I first felt religious feelings that I recognized as such at that little church. One couldn’t miss it there.

    I do wish we could have better music at our Sacrament Meetings. I love the LDS church and the restored Gospel, and I think it’s cute how we lay into a hymn and sing all the verses like sawing off a log, with that LDS work ethic and determination to give full measure. But I agree with Sister Knight that we need access to more dynamic music in our services. Particularly in parts of the world in which it’s a cultural tradition, like here.

    It’s rather a shame that we say to converts in far-flung places and at home, “We love you as a person and we’re delighted to have you with us but please leave all of your culture at the door and come join us in the Intermountain West.” They have much more to bring to us which we so far have refused.

    But going to different churches lets me feed all those hungers. It also keeps things fresh and unexpected enough that the feeling is always alive and new. Thanks for reminding me of that. I enjoyed this post.

  54. I noted Pastor Wall’s invitation at the beginning of her sermon:

    “We invite you to open your Bibles to Luke chapter 7…”

    How novel, reading along with the pastor during the worship service. ;)

  55. Jack, like I said, I’m happy you found a welcoming church that you and your family enjoy attending. No offense intended. I guess if I can’t express a simple opinion without offending the BCC hordes, I’ll comment elsewhere.

  56. Dave, we weren’t offended. At least I wasn’t. I just disagreed with you and offered a contradictory experience. Your opinions are welcome here; just don’t expect them to go unchallenged all the time.

  57. The problem is that disagreement here isn’t expressed as “I have an alternate opinion” or “While I understand why you think that, you’re overlooking X.” It comes across as “You jerk, you’re totally wrong and only an idiot could possibly make such a stupid claim. Not that you’ll ever be as socially enlightened as I am, but if you were, you’d understand why I spit on you and your ridiculous statements.”

  58. Dave, it’s not your well-wishes for my church home or the fact that you don’t like our music that bothered me. It’s your insinuation that we’re out of touch with New Testament Christianity when New Testament Christianity is precisely what evangelical Christians seek to emulate. I have no doubt that you did not mean to be offensive—I’ve seen you posting long enough to know that you usually make a genuine effort to understand other the PoV of others—but do you honestly not see how that can be seen as a challenge to someone’s faith?

    As to the “hordes” of people you’ve offended, I count three replies to your comment, two in disagreement and one in agreement. If that’s enough to chase you away from a blog, I can’t imagine there’s a lot of blogs that can keep you happy.

    FWIW though, I still like you. Always have.

  59. Attention all,
    There have been no spittle and no hordes here today. However, if you would, I could supply some of both.

    I’m especially good at expectorating.

  60. It’s your insinuation that we’re out of touch with New Testament Christianity when New Testament Christianity is precisely what evangelical Christians seek to emulate.

    I think this is precisely why Dave brought it up. Evangelicals are often talking about emulating Biblical Christianity (and this seems top be the main argument they bring up against Mormonism) – and yet there are many elements of the many different kinds of Evangelicalism that doesn’t square with the Bible.

    Of course – Dave should also realize the many Mormon claims to a “restoration” of primitive Christianity – while at the same time disregarding many elements of the NT.

    forgive my nosey mediating…

  61. Dave, let me try that again: I’m sincerely sorry if my response made you feel unwelcome. It bothers me a lot that Mormons are generally not very appreciative of other styles of worship, and my response to your particular comment was pitched at the emotional level of the general problem, which was unfair.

  62. I love the LDS church and the restored Gospel, and I think it’s cute how we lay into a hymn and sing all the verses like sawing off a log, with that LDS work ethic and determination to give full measure.

    Great description, Tatiana! You made me laugh too because it’s so true.

  63. “I’m especially good at expectorating.”

    As is my six-year old. ;-)

  64. My first experience going to a non-LDS meeting was singing with my high school choir for a Catholic Mass. I was thoroughly mortified when the congretation stood and recited The Lord’s Prayer from memory while I, the goody-two-shoes Mormon choir boy, couldn’t come up with more than the first line. There is much we can learn from our devout friends. Years later I married a girl who was a member of that Catholic congregation; we attend Mass with my mother-in-law whenever the occasion arises. I always enjoy the fellowship and was happy to hear my son remark a few days ago how much he enjoys going to Mass with his grandma.

  65. Great post, Kevin. Just came across it today.

    I made a habit of attending the worship services of other Faiths about twice a month as missionary in Wisconsin. My favorite was a African American Baptist church in Beloit (Immanuel Baptist Church). I’d go there once a month while I was in that area. I admit I probably liked this service the best because it was the closest thing I got to listening to pop/rock music on my mission (and it was my introduction to the enthusiasm and soulfulness of Black Gospel music) .

    The habit has stuck with me post-mission and I still attend services of other Faiths on occasion. Like some other posters here, I now tend to gravitate toward high services and older liturgies. I used to be able to persuade my wife and kids to come with me on these excursions, but nowadays the three hour block is about all they can handle. I think a unique understanding of and empathy for people of faith can be cultivated through extending our own worship repertoire as Latter-day Saints. Especially for life-long Latter-day Saints like myself.

    There’s a great little book, How to Be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies, that has helped me negotiate through the unfamiliar worship services of other Faiths.

    I still very much delight in the lay, unpolished, sometimes fumbling, and democratic structure of our own Sacrament Service.

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