Sunday, August 13, 2006

Church #13: [Milford] Vineyard 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: Hm. 6?
BRADLEY: I would go with a 5

3. Picture(s) of the church

4. Name/location of the church:
Vineyard Church
5857 Highview Drive
Milford, OH 45150
(They ought to put that website on their program.)

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
Yes; Bradley and I saw an ad at a movie theater, and also this was one of the churches that Gail recommended to us in a previous Church Hop post. (Thanks again!)

6. Time/duration of services:

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

8. Who did you meet?
I'm getting bad about this, aren't I? We shook some hands during fellowship but we didn't meet anyone new. Sorry.

9. If applicable, scans of handouts, tracts, etc

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

ERICA: There was a rubber duck floating in the baptismal pool. That basically set the tone for the church. The pastor was very familiar with the congregation, very casual, told a lot of jokes, etc. The church was welcoming and comfortable.

So why the lowered score? Somehow I always manage to score the anti-evolution sermons. It didn't stop at "scientists just can't explain the Big Bang!"... I could have handled that. No, it went on to mention how you should be insulted if someone says you descended from an ape, etc etc etc.

Can I blame the church for this? Shouldn't I have been ready for that? I guess so, but it makes my blood boil every time. I just can't handle it. I feel really guilty going to a church and then getting upset when they make a standard church claim-- but I can't help it! I cannot, even for an hour a week, turn my back on science. And when the pastor emphasizes that parents need to go home and tell their kids where they REALLY came from, I really really have to hold back.

I had a realization during services, which I am not sure I should share here but I feel I should be honest. The long and short of my realization is that the thing holding me back from believing in God is... people. So many people find religion in church where other people help them understand this, believe in that, etc. As for me, it's the church-going crowd that has actually blocked me from my belief.

I have always-- or as long as I can remember-- refused to believe in a God that would tell me it's One Religion or Nothing. A God that would frown upon my decision to explore my beliefs, check out different churches, refuse to commit to one mindset or one decision. Now, aside from the people who have commented here and encouraged me to continue my journey, I continually find that churches act as though they know the one truth. As if there's very little exploration to do, besides your own personal learning of what is set down in the Bible.

That's one of the reasons I will always side with science. It's so progressive. It keeps up with the times, by definition... it discards what is old, outdated, and more or less incorrect. It updates itself constantly. Even the most modern churches-- with their awesome A/V and their casual dress codes-- seem so rigid, so unable to see anything outside of their set-in-stone beliefs.

I know by now I have offended someone, and I apologize. Please know that I am not talking about everyone, or every single church, and also that I have so much more exploration to do. I've only been to Christian churches so far, afterall. Church Hopping has taught me a lot already, and it has definitely shown me that I could never settle at one church. I'm terrified of having my beliefs become concrete. I hope that until the day I die I never feel certain of what God is, or what the answer is, or what life's for. The minute I feel like I have an answer is the minute I feel like I've become the person I hate-- the one who won't change their mind for anything, despite evidence or new perspective.

Okay, sorry to have rambled on so long and again, I'm sorry if I have offended anyone. This is a journey, and we have to take the good with the bad.

BRADLEY: I like to think that I try very hard not to let my own beliefs impact what I think of the actual Church. I know all Churches mean well, and due to this, it was very hard to make an exact opinion. They seemed to have a few strong words on what I belive. (evolution)

Now the overall feel of this Church gave off a good vibe. It seemed to have it's ducks in a row, because it was hip to today's culture and youth, but at the same time seemed to keep it's root in tact. The actual Church was quite large; and finally, in the middle of the pews, (padded!) in the center of the hall, was a large space, so you could walk to the other side of the hall, without having to cut through people. I like little things like that.

The tech booth also seemed to be well set-up. Belive it or not, that actually is somethng I look at in a Church. Anyway, we got through some long songs, and rounded a few messages of the daily announcements, and then things went downhill. The man giving that day's sermon, seemed like a funny guy at first, and mostley was throughout the message. He was well organized, and had some scriptural quotes to back him up. Although, he would slip in little words of his own, to make the meaning of the message, hm, "funnier"? It all seemed very unprofessional. Anyway, when he finally reached the part about how we should "feel offended when somebody says that we evolved from monkeys" I was really saddened. I guess I'm still waiting for the Church that's the bigger man, realizes that theres more than one way to look at the world, excepts it, and moves on. Anyway, this really ruined the whole thing for me.

A few days later, we recived an package in the mail, with a disc full of prayer songs, and a comment card. I filled it out and sent it back, saying I didn't like the messages on evolution, but I did like there Church. All in all, they would have been a great Church, if they just learned to except that theres more than one way to look at our existance.

ALSO! I've been really busy lately-- sorry!-- and I haven't taken the time (until now) to scan a thank you note that we got from Eastside Christian Church. I really appreciate churches that take the time to welcome their visitors, and I'm really sorry that it took me this long to acknowledge Eastside for their gesture.
It reads: Erica-- (Bradley got one, too.)
Thanks for being here this weekend. I checked out your blog and appreciated what you had to say. It's a good idea and sometimes we "church types" need some fresh perspective on what's going on. I pray God blesses your spiritual journey and that through your hopping you'll encounter this God who loves you passionately. Blessings!
Jonathan Wolfgang

This is probably the most personal note we've received as it mentions the blog-- if you're reading this, thanks for checking us out, and also for welcoming us as guests at your church.


Jenny said...

I can see what you mean about, in general, church-goers holding you back from church. But I think that a certain church- or even a certain group of people- can make that different. I'm sure it's hard to not see Christians as a whole as against science and evolution and even reason sometimes- but there are Christians out there that believe all sorts of things. But I promise that's not everyone.

PS- the duck in the baptismal font cracked me up. :)

Erica said...

Erica, I know how you feel, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. That's pretty much exactly how I feel about religion, churches, God, and science, all wrapped up into one little blog post. I thought I was reading my own thoughts! (Creepy!)

Jared Cherup said...

Website tip: Make your meta tag point to your feedburner feed. That way you can track your subscribers better. It points to the Blogger feed currently.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the evolution issue: It takes faith to believe in either evolution or creationism. Neither one is absolute as far as anyone is concerned. To be fair you are going to a church that believes in God and the Bible and the first words of the bible are "In the begining God created the heavens and the earth." However, the nagging questions that everyone has such as creation and dinosaurs and even evolution can only be answered after we have passed on from this life. Its ok to not agree with everything about christianity and religion because these are not perfect institutions they are only a place where man tries to meet God but as long as man is involved there will always be imperfections and short-comings.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to hear your comments on the Vineyard Church in Springdale. It is very different from the ones you have described.

I am part of the Vineyard Church in Dayton, and find that Vineyard Churches are similar in some areas, but different in others.

I have enjoyed reading your posts. It is nice to get the take of "outsiders" (hopefully that term is not offensive). I, personally, agree that people are/were a big hindrance to my spiritual journey. I was a pastor and will be planting a church in the future, so, again, it is nice to read these posts.

Eebs said...

Thank you so much for your comments! It's great to have support on a project like this... it often feels like walking on eggshells, but on the whole people have backed us.

We will put Vineyard Springdale on the list. :)

Paul said...

I attend the Milford Vineyard, now Rivertree, and I have my days. It has been said more than once, Christians give Christianity a bad name. Personnally, it is not about us, it is all about the Creator, His love and faithfullness, not ours. As far as creation, I have not been there yet; but I hear there is a great creation museum in northern Kentucky, Christian of course. Take care, and God bless.

Anonymous said...

Hi Erica, Bradley. I pastor a Vineyard church in Kenya and I do believe in evolution. So does Ken Wilson the pastor of the Ann Arbor Vineyard. They would be an interesting church to visit. Their website is below.
Here are some Christian websites that support evolution:

I wish you the best in your search for truth. Gary