Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Church #21b: McLean Bible Church (guest hop!)

Hurrah! Guest Church Hopper Rachel sent me this review of a church she visited in McLean, Virginia. I really, really appreciate this kind of remote Church Hopping... so if you've done any lately, send me a report! (Not on your home church, please.) Without further ado... Rachel & co's guest hop!

1. Who attended? Rachel, Andrew, Amy and Paul

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.

Rachel: 7
The other people: Averaged out at a 7, too.

3. Picture(s) of the church

I didn’t know that I’d be writing a Church Hop, but I DID take some pictures. They aren’t of the regular sanctuary, but of the Jr. High room – it was awesome!!! The rest of the church was WAY more traditional than the Jr. High room. It was mostly white. White walls and counters – with green carpet and chairs. The main auditorium was one big room with graduated seating towards the back. I read in a info sheet that it holds 1500 people.

4. Name/location of the church:
McLean Bible Church

McLean, Virginia

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
We were visiting my brother in DC, so we went with him.

6. Time/duration of services:
We went to the 9:00 service; it was just over an hour.

7. What type of religion did the church cater to?
Non-denominational my sister-in-law says. It was pretty close to feeling Baptist if you ask me.

8. Who did you meet?
A few people who worked there, including a lady who ran the special needs ministry for kids with disabilities. I was really interested in that, but she seemed too busy to answer any of my questions. The volunteer at the Jr. High room was SUPER nice.

9. If applicable, scans of handouts, tracts, etc
We got a handout of all the upcoming events when we walked in. It was like a small novel. Lots of stuff going on at this church! There were ads for weekend seminars, groups, and it explained the 5 different services you could go to.

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

RACHEL: As we drove up Amy yells, “A parking garage? I can’t believe they have a parking garage!!” She has designed churches as an architect and tells me that to build a parking garage you spend $25,000 per parking space instead of $1500 per space for a parking lot. WOW – that’s a big difference. As we walk up there are people walking in that are in jeans, some are in khakis, some are wearing ties. I guess anything goes! We feel welcomed by the “greeting team” (not sure what they are called) as we walk in. The people are generally nice, and we follow my brother into the main sanctuary. They do point out where the bathrooms are (down a hall and around the corner) in case we need to find them later. We’re all toting our Bibles along with us. Not because my bother told us to, but because we saw that he and my sister-in-law had them, so we bring ours to fit in. Good thing we did. Lots of people are carrying in Bibles.

We take a seat front and center. The giant screens have several community announcements going on, and then the service starts with music. It’s a lady singing and playing piano, she’s very good. We sing several songs. Then the pastor walks out. He announces that we are going to take communion. I get nervous. Instantly, I get nervous. Will I know what to do? They pass it down the isles, so that’s easy enough. But then, we have these little plastic shot glasses … what do we do with those? Amy and I stack ours and put them on the floor for now. More songs, and then more. There is about 30 minutes of music. That’s a little on the heavy side for me, but hey – some people could sing the whole hour. After several songs, they show a video on the big screens. A lady is telling a story, but it is very vague. Then, that same lady comes out and does an interpretive dance. That is a first for me! She was a good dancer, but I wish that the video would have told the story. Instead she just said she had gone through a hard time, and God was there for her. I want some details! The pastor comes back and gives a serman about how to know the path that God wants you on. I agree with some of his points, and disagree with others. He is using a lot of churchy language that I am not used to. I get somewhat distracted by the churchy language from time to time. The pastor is a Jew for Jesus – he was Jewish, and then became a Christian. I think that is fascinating, and I wish that I could ask him a bunch of questions about that. We never crack open our Bibles.

The service ends, and they invite all new people to a 10 minute info session following the service. As good church hoppers, we go. It’s a small room with seating for about 20 people, and the room is full. The pastor comes in, and I’m impressed that he took the time to do that. He tells us what the church’s mission is, and that he is glad that we are there. He introduces us to the “pastor of new people” and she is very well spoken, and well dressed. They tell us they know that the church is big, and that you can get lost (apparently 10,000 people go there), so they have the “pastor of new people” to help you meet new people, volunteer, answer your questions, etc. I think to myself, “this meeting is a GREAT idea”. It really was nice to know exactly what was going on there and who to ask questions.

We leave the meeting and my brother and sister-in-law go to get flu shots (YES – they were doing flu shots at church). So, the four of us go exploring. We see the kids area and the Jr. High room. The lady who is running check in at the Jr. High room invites us in to see the place. It is awesome – a skateboard ramp, video games, and arcade games – very cool (see pictures).

The one thing that bothered me about this church is that you have to pay for everything. You pay for coffee, a CD of the service, pamphlets, seminars and classes that you want to take. A few times we started to pick something up, and then saw it was a few bucks. That was a little shocking. Better go to the ATM before you go to church. There was a full coffee shop and a café on site!

All in all, not bad. I wasn’t offended, nor was I challenged to change anything about my life. I missed free coffee.


Anonymous said...

very interesting! I read the newer posts first - about the money stuff being discussed at other churches. Seems that this church is not getting enough $$ to offer coffee and other stuff for free to its members. Maybe that $$ went to the parking garage. I suppose I shouldn't be a judge though. it just strikes me as weird, if I was a visitor, it seems that free coffee would make me feel at home! my church has free coffee, but it always tastes quite awful. :-)

Colleen said...

Just one comment on the parking garage. Please don't think that was an avoidable excess. The property was previously owned by the Federal Wildlife Federation. The neighbors were concerned about surface parking taking up an excessive amount of greenspace and the compromise was a parking garage.

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Anonymous said...

We attended but didn't enjoy it at all. The entire experience felt strange and non-Christian but then the Pastor is jewish so that explained a lot. He didn't once quote the New Testament which both disappointed and upset us and the sermon was totally uninspiring and superficial. We walked out feeling like we got absolutely nothing out of it. Seems like this is some home baked watered down version of Christianity and not the real deal at all. We won't go again.