Sunday, May 08, 2011

How to Pick a New Church: Start in The Ladies Room

We test drove a new church today: Cypress Bible Church. We chose to try this one first since it meets our criteria of being a bible church and it's half a mile from our house. Google Maps says we could walk there in 10 minutes. We would never do that but it's nice to have that useless option.

We haven't had to look for a new church in over 8 years and that hasn't been nearly long enough. I rank the whole process right up there with looking for a new OB/GYN. Or worse...a new hairstylist.

Overall, we liked the church just fine. It was our first visit so we'll need to go back a few times to get a feel for the place but in general, I can't complain.

Are you cracking up? Well you should be because I can ALWAYS complain, even if there's nothing to complain about. I really don't consider myself a complainer although I have been called a nitpicker a few times. I prefer to think of myself as hyperobservant, that's all. I'm just tellin' it like I see it.

I did try not to compare this church to Trinity but then decided that was an impossible goal. I think it's okay to compare as long as I don't use Trinity as a standard of measurement. Different can be good.

Traffic was horrible so it took us 3 whole minutes to get to the church instead of 2. What a nightmare. Plus we had to drag ourselves out of bed at the crack of 10 a.m. to get there for the 11:00 service. Their signage was good, we easily found the visitor's parking spots right up front. There was a pleasant tree lined walkway to the entrance where "Rhett" greeted us and handed us a bulletin. We gave everyone we saw the name of their Trinity counterparts for our own entertainment.

As soon as we walked in, I made a bee line for the Welcome Center while Jayson and Taylor went into the auditorium (or sanctuary or whatever they call it) to get us some good seats. This church is probably 4 times bigger than Trinity but still not freakishly huge. Jayson didn't want to call attention to us as visitors in case they did some kind of freaky embarrassing visitor ritual before the service. I didn't much care as long as the welcome gift was good.

I bellied up to the Welcome Center, slammed my hand down on the counter and said, "I'm visiting. What do you have for me?" With a church this size I was expecting their welcome gifts to be something awesome like an iPad. Instead I got 2 brochures. Can you believe it?! NO welcome gift! Okay, there's strike one but "Lou" at the Welcome Center was really nice and explained the brochures and showed me where to go to get information on their other ministries.

I took my two stinkin' brochures (one of them was on a cheesy 20# bond plain copy paper and I nearly gagged) and went to the little alcoves where the various ministries have information available. I hit the women's alcove first and, naturally, it was stuffed full of pictures, events, upcoming bible studies, crafts, Beth Moore and all kinds of girlie goodness. I grabbed one of everything.

Then I crossed the hall to the men's minstry alcove and it was completely empty except for a little decorative border across the top that was falling down. I am not kidding. There was absolutely nothing available for the spiritual leaders of our households. That's about par.

Next to that was the missions alcove which was sparse but not completely bare. There was a rack of pictures of what I assume are each of the missionaries the church supports. There was a flier with information about how you can support their global missionaries or something like that but I didn't pick it up because it just had a whole lot of words on it and no pictures.

There was a table in the foyer with at least 30 coffee pump pots on it. I didn't investigate since I was already wired enough but next week I will judge try their coffee. I went into the auditorium and found Jayson and Taylor firmly planted in the very last row right next to the sound booth. Okay, that just screams "I'M A VISITOR!" Plus it was distracting for me since I was preoccupied with their sound equipment and was dying to know which OS and presentation software they were using. By the end of the service I had decided they were running Media Shout on a PC. Next week I will have to come up with some subtle way to find out if I was right.

The auditorium and really the whole church in general is a little too churchy for my taste but not extremely so. They get a penalty for excessive use of crosses but kudos for the background graphics they used during worship. The auditorium had pews (yuck) but at least they weren't covered in red velvet. And the aisles were carpeted but the area under the pews was painted concrete so you could spill your coffee in there all day long and no one would have a cow. I loved that idea, although stained concrete would have been a wiser choice but that's just me. On the down side, when you're in the aisle and turn to step into your pew, there is a little step down where the concrete and the carpet meet. I tripped on it getting into the pew, made a mental note to remember it when the service was over, then tripped on it again getting out of the pew.

Worship was okay but nothing special. They did say that their "Joel" had the day off so the stand-in was leading and maybe that's why it felt a There was nothing wrong with it, just a little too rehearsed and K-LOVEish. I did notice that their stand-in "Joel" as well as half of the worship team was bald and I figured this must be an industry standard. Or a hazard of the industry? Hhmm.

Their "Dennis" was bald too and not nearly as gifted a teacher as the real Dennis. Still, I didn't fall asleep so that's a good sign. But he did have that strange Houston accent that I've decided is some kind of a hybrid mix of the nasally North, the nonexistent California, and that South Texas accent that overcompensates so it won't be mistaken for Mexican. It's strange that I've never noticed it before and it will require further investigation.

I had a feeling the church was more believer oriented rather than seeker oriented and that was pretty much confirmed when their "Dennis" used the word pentateuch twice during the service and there was no slide presentation to explain the word. In fact, there was no slide presentation at all during the service. I actually liked that. The sermon notes were on a separate sheet folded inside the bulletin and it was basically an outline of the sermon. Then on the back side there were extra verses with daily devotionals for the week that small groups could use. It looked to me like the small group curriculum was sermon based with their weekly discussion notes available for download from the website. They scored another point for that.

The service started promptly at 11 and ended promptly at 12. It was the shortest church service I've attended in a long time. We'll go back next week for another look. Jayson liked it, it was casual and comfy and not too pretentious. Taylor said it smelled good and she was right. The whole building had a pleasant floral smell to it, like it just got out of the shower. I'll have to see if they can make good coffee, because that's important for my spiritual journey, and I'll have to visit the ladies room. You can tell a lot about a church from their bathrooms. Or rather from the conversations you hear while you're in the bathroom. Girls talk, I'm just sayin'.


shamayn said...

Don't make the same mistake I did and wait 4 years to inquire about their stance on Israel and Jews! AAAccckkk..I could kick myself over the moon for being so stupidly blind. Here is a good way to guage their possible belief of replacement theology. If they NEVER pray for Israel and NEVER speak of God's chosen people, the Jews...haul ASS!!!!!Oh, and if everyone talks about how wonderful it's gonna be in HEAVEN after Jesus returns...there's your big fat replacement theology sign. They no comprende Revelation or the idea of New Jerusalem. And God forbid should you be the bearer of the reality that Jesus is a Jew and not a Christian!!!! Their eye's will glaze over, faces puff up and turn red and they feel sure Jesus will be eating a BLT sandwich with them at the next Feast of Tabernacles!!! Good grief I had no idea such skewed beliefs even existed and I dang sure didn't realize I was going to a church that believes such heresy. Thank you LORD for pulling me out of Satan's grip. Good luck sister. I feel sure you are far wiser than I am so no worries.

Shannon Green said...

We're still at the 'can they make a decent cup of coffee' stage so we'll hit the heavy stuff later!

shamayn said...

LOL! Yes, one step at a time!