Sunday, May 07, 2006

Church #2: Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

1. Who attended? Bradley & Erica

How was the experience?
1: I was so uncomfortable and/or offended that I did not stay to the end of services.
10: This church was welcoming and thought-provoking. I would recommend that others experience this church.

Erica: 5. I wasn't completely uncomfortable but I didn't really feel welcomed, perhaps because of how large the congregation was.
Brad: This Church also gets a 5 from me, because of the lack of personality

3. Picture(s) of the church

4. Name/location of the church:

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
101 S. Lebanon Road
Loveland, Ohio 45140

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
No, but I was curious about Lutheran church because of mon ami Mark Zimmerman, who was raised Lutheran.

6. Time/duration of services:

7. What type of religion did the church cater to?

8. Who did you meet?
Actually, no one. There were a *ton* of people at the church, especially compared to last week's intimate congregation. No one welcomed us when we were there, even though we were early and seated by ourselves. We shook plenty of hands but I didn't get anyone's name.

9. If applicable, scans of handouts, tracts, etc
Uh, I don't think I was supposed to take this with me, but I needed something to scan. Sorry.

10. Church Hopper’s personal experience with the church, additional details:

ERICA: Wowzas. We took quite a leap from last week. This church was much larger, for starters... a little bigger in size, a lot bigger in congregation. That did help us blend in a little bit, but it also made me feel a little isolated-- no one talked to us at all. I guess with that many people there just isn't the time to stop, say hi to each person, welcome them to the church. I guess I understand that, and I definitely could have made a greater effort myself if I was bent on meeting someone. Unfortunately, I just felt too shy.

What really surprised me-- but wouldn't surprise anyone even remotely familiar with the religion-- was that everything was scripted down to the smallest detail. Instead of a loose service program, we got these books of intricate detail, right down to when we should be standing (indicated by an asterick). While this was incredibly helpful for a first-time church-goer... could I handle that week after week? What I really liked about last week's service was that it was spoken from the top of the head, and the bottom of the heart. It had obviously been practiced, but not set in stone.

Because of the rigidty of the service, it felt a little odd to me. It was almost OCD... I could imagine people freaking out if the order of the service was changed. Maybe this is unfair, but it seemed so automatic. Of course we're singing Psalm 23 here. Why? It's Psalm 23 time. Duh.

Again, it was helpful for us first-timers... the things we were supposed to say were in bold, and we knew when to stand and when to sit... we were even told which way to turn when appropriate (toward this book, now toward this huge bowl of water, now back toward the pulpit). But I think if I were looking to settle down with a religion, I'd want one that was a little more spontaneous. (And maybe one with some better singalongs.)

All in all my experience wasn't a negative one, it just wasn't as comfortable as I guess I'd hoped. Bradley and I didn't take communion but we did sit and stand and sing and recite and reflect and tithe, so I think we're alright.

Also noteworthy: this church's band had a tuba and a flute, besides the standard fare. Woo hoo!

Brad: When I walked through the doors of this church, I wasn't greeted with the feeling of saftey and love, but the smell of a doctor's office, and the cold feeling of uncomfort. I'm not going as bold as saying this Church was bad, or gave me a bad feeling, but It was a less welcoming touch from our first. Although, this is what I was afraid of, the comparison of the two. Anyway, we took our seats, and here is what I noticed.

The large tub of Holy Water near the front of the door. The paper slips on the pew labled "scribble sheet, for little Lutherans". The guitarist that looked JUST like Max Weinberg, the network router that made this Church a "hot spot", and the cool robes of the ministor. The lector they had did nothing for me, and the sermon was mild at best. Although the songs music was excellent, it lacked that Church-y feel.

I really hate the fact that I get in my "Sunday Best" (a dress shirt and tie) for respect, and some people are wearing a freak'n "I <3 NY" shirt. That really bugs me. Also, another note worthy thing was that this Church was very, very clean. The walls were white, with the big "alleluia" on it. Anyway, overall this Church was very well put together, but lacked a personal touch to it.


Anonymous said...

I would like to comment on the t shirt note. I understand that in order to show respect to the churches, you feel it proper (as do I) to dress up. Please don't view other people's attire as something to get peeved about, though. I grew up in a chuch were the attire ranged from multi-hundard dollar suit Sunday best of a few well-off members, to ratty jeans that hopefully had just come from a laundry mat as the Sunday best of others.

If anything, I think getting upset about what other people are wearing is a very large disrespect to the church.

Erica said...

although i agree with mr. anonymous up there on the clothes thing (even though i always dress up for church, if i go) i wanted to make another comment. the last time i was at a lutheran church, my experience ranked a 1 on your scale - i was so offended i wanted to leave right then and there. and had i not been there for a funeral (a girl i knew in high school had died), i would have. so i was interested to hear how your experience was - i didn't know if it was that particular church, or the lutheran faith that prompted this particular minister to tell everyone in the room that they were going to hell if they didn't go to church. arg.

anyhow, at that time i attended a united methodist church. although i don't go much now, i always felt welcome and at home with the congregation there. glad to see you guys had the same experience. :)

can't wait til next week, i'm very interested in where you'll go next!

Mental Desperado said...

Lutherans! That's me! I think it's funny that they had so many instructions, especially what you should be turned towards. My church used to hold a traditional and a contemporary service, so you could get whatever flavor of churchin' you'd want! In fact, I just found the website ( for "my" church (I haven't attented regularly since going to college). Apparently, they now offer a third, middle option. You like your praying average, extra sassy, or original recipe?

Also, mad props to the Methodist church for sending a personalized thank you letter.

Eebs said...

You just gave mad props to a church.

...hahaha... There's something funny about that.

Mark Zimmerman said...

What can I say? Lutheranism is handed down from the old sticks in the mud themselves, the Catholics, so it's a lot of half-hearted, mob mentality, rituatlistic feel-nothing rote exercise churchin'.

I grew up with it, but to everyone who didn't, it probably seems totally dumb and makes them uncomfortable. Just thinking about it now, though, here's what I came up with:

God doesn't have that much info to impart to us (assuming for a moment he exists). In fact, Jesus summed it up by honoring God and the golden rule. So no matter what denomination you're going to, after enough weeks the message is redundant and boring. I guess I like my comfortable unabashed boring more than the churches I've gone to where they all act like they've got something new, revolutionary, and amazing every time. It seems less false to me somehow.

Lawrence Brewer said...

I agree with Mark Zimmerman- Lutheran churches are liturgical churches, and when you have a set liturgy, the services get pretty inflexible. For seekers like Eebs and Bradley, I could see this as a turn-off. BUT, when you're having some rough weeks and are in need of some stability to keep from going nuts, the liturgy is familiar and comforting.
Moreover, the various parts of the liturgy come straight from the Bible, giving us a good biblical foundation at a time when other churches' success depend on wild music or charismatic (and fallible) leadership. I guess it all depends upon what attracts you to church!
I grew up in this church, and while I've visited other churches, I've never felt out of place because so many churches adopt elements from the "old" liturgy that I grew up with.