Sunday, August 20, 2006

Church #14: [Eastgate] 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.

BRADLEY: 6, a little low, due to the A/V output.

3. Picture(s) of the church
(Bradley first read this marquee as "Coffee, Guitars, Jesus."

4. Name/location of the church:
Vineyard Eastgate Community Church
1005 Cincinnati Batavia Pike
Batavia, Ohio 45150

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
Nope-- we landed there because a different church we had planned on visiting started at 9, not 9:30... oops. It's right across from the third church that Gail recommended, which we will most likely visit next week.

6. Time/duration of services:

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

8. Who did you meet?
We met the pastor and gave him our names, but I didn't catch his-- I think it was John? He was very friendly and welcoming.

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

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

ERICA: When John (?) welcomed us to the church, he asked what brought us here. Against my better judgment I told him about Church Hop, which I don't think I'll do in the future because how can you act naturally when you know you're being graded? I doubt it affected the service too much, but I couldn't help but wonder.

I hate to give the church such a low score but it was really drab to me. Even physically-- it seemed as though the church had made no effort to decorate or add any color whatsoever to the completely white walls and ceilings. While that alone is hardly a reason to criticize a church, much of the service followed suit-- the music was effective enough, but the rest was very automatic, right down to the people collecting the offering. Nothing stood out to me, and the message wasn't incredibly insightful.

Again, I wish I didn't feel that way because I was welcomed and even invited to attend other services with them. However, I could never go to church for church's sake, and this one just didn't reveal any passion to me. It's odd because I believe this is a sister church to the one we visited last week-- that was not intentional, but it's interesting to put them side by side. This church didn't offend me, as Milford did slightly, but it really didn't make me feel much of anything at all.

BRADLEY: It was kind of odd, going to another Vinyard Church, so I was half expecting to see a similar set-up, just a different size Church. When I walked into the place, It was a little dull to the eye. We were the first ones in too, so I thought we were going to be a little short-handed on the people. When we went in, they were already playing through the end of the song. I can't say that the music was bad. In fact, the music was great. I liked the songs, and the playing, but the sound quality was a little lacking. This made everything loud and crunchy. But like I said, the music was still good.

After looking at the large amount of food they had set out (I never have any, [I don't know why] but there was fruit!) we were greeted immediately by the pastor. I didn't know that's who he was at the time, because of the normal cloths. That always gets me. I will say that I liked the fact that they said "jeans" on the front message board, so I'm not going to get mad about the way people dressed. The music ended, and a few short announcements were given. That's about when the pastor got up to give his message. Without going into to much detail, I'll say that it was a great sermon, but it lacked some good quality bulk. I didn't have enough meat, but had plenty of potatoes. It's hard to put my finger on it, but the sermon needed a more powerfull message.

I guess with the exception of the audio quality and the lack of meat to the message, this was a great church. We were greeted very nicley, and even given "thanks for coming" packets at the end.

LAST WEEK we received a thank you letter from the Milford Vineyard Church (Church #13). It's a form letter but they also included a CD of worship music, which Bradley and I thought was pretty cool. There was a comment card to return about the church, which I haven't done yet, but isn't each Church Hop post its own comment card?! The letter reads:

Dear Erica, (Brad received his own)

It was great to have you as part of our celebration this past week. I hope you enjoyed it and felt welcome. I am looking forward to getting to know you.

We want to help you in any way we can. We believe every person is important. As you looked around, you probably noticed that our church family is made up of people just like you. (Actually, Bradley and I were probably the youngest people in the the room, during the services we attended.) We're glad you chose to attend the Vineyard.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Vineyard, our next "Vineyard Values & Vision" meeting will be Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 12:30--2:00pm. Pizza, drinks and child care provided.

Thanks again for spending time with us. I hope you'll continue to join us each week or as your schedule permits. We want you to feel like part of our family. I'm looking forward to seeing you again this weekend.

Steve Caperton


rb said...

This was where I really saw people "being Jesus" for the first time. I no longer go there, in large part because of what Brad noticed about the "meat & potatoes". John talks a lot about "getting people to the window" for a glimpse of what The Kingdom really looks (or should look) like, and I think they serve that purpose a lot better than some of the other "seeker oriented" churches I've been to since. We go to a "clean cut" church now (that's what my buddy Andrew calls the denominationals), and my wife says the difference in VECC and where we are now is like a sit-down meal instead of fast food.

It's possible that the sign might have indeed said "Jesus" instead of "jeans" when Brad saw it - the youth, who meet on Thursday nights, have changed "jeans" to "Jesus" before. You'd expect the reverse to happen, but the youth there were seriously on fire for God, last I saw.

Because of what I learned from the folks at VECC, I've always kept the perspective that my relationship with Jesus Christ is much more important than where I go to meet with Him and His followers. I was an agnostic most of my life, and I'm still very skeptical about what I see "religious" people doing, so I hope I don't sound too Bible-thumping or fire-and-brimstone when I say that I'm praying that you find something bigger than what you're looking for. I sure did.

BCT said...

I used to go to this church too and left for the same reasons: meat and potatoes.  Mostly, the messages lack substance since the pastor seems unwilling to take a stand or say anything that would be construed as controversial or challenging.  After awhile the impression one gets is that he is pandering instead of leading.

Don't get me wrong, the pastor is a great guy who is loved by everyone, but he's unable or unwilling to be a leader.  He's not bad at marketing the church, but you get the sense that he so busy trying to be everyone's friend that he really can't get the parishoners mobilized.  The leadership of the church seems very indicisive and waffles constantly about numerous issues.

The youth leaders (a middle-aged couple named Rick and Sherri) really do a great job with the kids and the church has core of really great people.  However, it's hard to grow at VECC and most people ending leaving as soon as they get serious about ministry.