Sunday, December 03, 2006

Church #25: Northeast Community 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: 7, it was a very normal church

3. Picture(s) of the church

4. Name/location of the church:
12079 Lebanon Road
Loveland, OH 45140

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
No; it's on the way to my grandmother's house.

6. Time/duration of services:

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

8. Who did you meet?
Dan, Erik, Margaret, Paula... a whole slew of people introduced themselves-- by name-- but I can only remember so many at once...

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

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

ERICA: I liked this church immediately because it felt like Christmas. There were Christmas carols playing and the auditorium was decorated with Christmas trees and lights. I'm a sucker for that stuff. (To back up for a second, the place was really easy to navigate-- a lot of clear signs.)

When we sat down we were welcomed immediately, and from all sides. The pastor welcomed us and told us to "be ourselves"-- I think it was the first time someone's actually said that to me in a church.

Then the music started, and I was incredibly happy when they started with a carol. I knew the words! I could sing along (and annoy Bradley in so doing)! It was "Come, O Ye Faithful," and it set the mood for their Christmas message. There were a bunch of other songs, too, which were performed well... upbeat and all that.

The sermon was pretty traditional, and it focused on joy-- what it is, what it means in the Bible, how you can achieve it, etc. Nothing too surprising, especially for a Christmas message, but it got me thinking anyway.

Where can I find a place that helps me be a better person... for humanity's sake? I loved everything about the church except for the idea that I need to be a better person because of God. This is *not* a criticism of the church-- how could it be? But what turns me off time and time again is that I never hear mention of doing good things because we share one world, because we are all human. It's always about praising the Lord, living through Jesus... concepts I'm okay with, but can't it be both? Can't I honor my parents and respect my mentors and love my neighbor... without the middle man?

This is going to get me hate mail, I'm sure. I'm basically saying I want to be a Christian without believing in God. But I feel like if you want to be the best person you can be, you have two options: become a Christian, where they'll give you interesting ideas of how to grow every single week, or not be a Christian and try to glean it from Oprah or something.

The pastor was energetic, articulate, and funny... but I could not connect with the message that told me that being a good person only counted if I was a Christian. (These are not his words, but that's what I drew from it.)

Brad: It's very interesting trying to describe this church. This was a very normal church, a very plain church. Now don't get me wrong, that can be a great thing. I think it would be easy to get carried away as a church, and strung up with ideas, be them classic or modern.

Anyway, it was full of Christmasy things, and even had some great tunes, with a band leader who seemed a little to "into" it. The sermon that followed was very good. I guess the reason most of the sermons given I like, are because you can't become a preacher if you aren't a good speaker. He didn't really raise many questions in my head, or provoke any thoughts-but maybe that's a good thing. I do, however- love when a pastor ties in personal moments into his sermons, and it always makes a sermon feel more "in-depth".

Like I said, I find it hard to reach for words, because this church was just a normal church, maybe THE most normal one I've seen yet.


Jenny said...

I don't know that you're saying you want to be a Christian without God; you're saying you just want to be a good person, period. Christians (or people of any religion, for that matter) aren't the only people in the world who are good and moral.

I don't think you need God to be good any more than you need McDonalds to be fat. Sure, sometimes they go together, but not always.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it can and is supposed to be both! When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, strength..AND...Love your neighbor as yourself."

So, in a sense, being a better person "for humanity's sake" is worshipping God...AND...worshipping God as Jesus outlined above can make you a better person.

This is definitely a "both/and" not an "either/or."

Keep up the search!

Henry Judy said...

I really like your blog. I am a pastor and have a fat degree (PhD) in preaching and I am so thankful you are doing what you are doing. I am planting a church in Florida and am learning an awful lot from your insights.

You are on a journey. For some reason or other. Erica you are right at this point: You do not have to believe in God.

He already believes in you.

Keep it up, you are teaching me.


Anonymous said...

Psalm 14:1
For the director of music. Of David.
1 The fool [a] says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

Footnotes: [a]

Psalm 14:1 The Hebrew words rendered fool in Psalms denote one who is morally deficient.

There will come a time when you will have to face the one you presently deny. Every true believer in God recognizes the fact that there is none who are good, none righteous none perfect.
The very fact that men everywhere are sinners doesn't rule out the very fact of His love for you.
St. Paul wrote that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Through that holy sacrifice and the shedding of His blood he has made a way for you to get back into a love relationship with God.
God is holding out his hands like a father his children and will welcome you into his loving arms. Humble yourself, ask him to reveal himself to you. Repent and turn to the only one with whom we have our being. You will see how much he loves and cares for and about you.

Ryan said...

I find it interesting that a lot of comments seem to focused mainly on a spiritual message, rather than the church hopping itself.

That said, I certainly would like to think it's possible (and indeed a worthy goal) to be a good person, in and of itself as a single goal. No reason other than being a good person is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Erica, as a believer I am embarrassed when I read comments like those of "anonymous" above. Please ignore people like this who are too cowardly (and incapable) of engaging in open and honest dialogue.

Eebs said...

Peter-- Thank you for your defense.

I could disable anonymous comments if I wanted to, but then I'd never be able to keep up with my scripture, I guess.

"Anonymous" has just as much of a right to throw his/her hat in the ring as anyone else, just as I have a right to ignore it.

Anonymous said...


I certainly don't believe that a person must become a Christian to be a "good" person. In theology-speak, we believe that everyone is made in the Image of God, and therefore capable of love, goodness, fairness, a sense of justice, etc.

Being a follower of Jesus is supposed to be about more than simply being good. In reading the Gospels we can see that Jesus is asking His followers to be more than just "good."

So why become a disciple of Jesus? I think it is because God wants us to be better than good. He wants to change us on the inside. Most people try to be "good" by changing their behavior. God wants to make us "good" by changing our character.

I don't know that this comment says everything I meant it to say, but I have been thinking about this post since I first read it.

Mark Wilson said...

Onya Jenry Judy!

Mark Wilson said...

I like this blog.

I believe in God and I want to be a good person. I think that I was able to be a pretty good person BEFORE I committed to God.

BUT now that I've come into a deeper relationship with Him... He's given me so much that I can use in my relationships around me.

He blesses me SO THAT I can bless others. He heals my emotions, mind, heart SO THAT I have more love to give.

I was a good person before, but now I have much much more to give to people around me BECAUSE of my relationship with Him.

So if you really want to be a good person and love those around you... if you really really want that... keep church hopping until you FIND a church that you see love in the people there. THAT'S the church *you* should attend.

Do you "emergent" church hop? The whole emerging thing might be more for you.

steve seese said...

Erica, Bradley,
Hello from your old friend Esteban. Checked out your blog for the first time today at work and ended up reading the whole thing (it's been a slow day). I had no idea the breadth of this project. Congratulations - if that's an appropriate word - I'm definitely a fan. Anyway, a few comments:

First, with respect to the current posting, I like what Mark Wilson has to say here...

"He blesses me SO THAT I can bless others. He heals my emotions, mind, heart SO THAT I have more love to give."

Yesterday while leaving work someone let me have a spot in traffic. Further down the street I let someone else in. Lame analogy, but I think a similar message applies: When you experience kindness, you're more inclined to show it. This is, I think, a real acheivement a church community (and a person) can strive for.

Second, a comment about something you (Erica) said a couple weeks ago...

"...when I know what I believe, and if I understand what I am looking for... then I guess it will be over."

I think the following quote applies:

"Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land,
Man got to tell himself he understand."
-Kurt Vonnegut

Regardless of what you each may discover, I hope the search has been rewarding enough in itself.

Lastly, we need to get together, and it occurred to me a church hop may be a good excuse to do so. There's a Unitarian Universalist Church in my neighborhood (firstuucolumbus dot org) that I've been meaning to check out for a year now, but never get around to it. Perhaps we can plan a weekend (You too, Brad). It also may be a step in another direction for you, or at least another "genre" as your friend Gail has put it.

Keep up the good work. Hope to see you soon.

Erica said...

Erica and Brad,

Just as an FYI, the Unitarian Universalist Church that Steve just mentioned is the one I was hoping we'd get to visit sometime. So, if we can plan it, we should all go!

Happy Holidays to both of you! :)

Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Jeff and my family and I attend Lutheran Church of the Resurrection.

Wow! There is quite a lot of advice for you as I read through some of what is on your blog, so I didn't think you would mind my two cents.

Christians should find a church based on what the Bible says a church should be, and it has plenty to say on the subject. I know it is the American way to do what feels good and many churches are geared toward that, but what feels good is often not the right thing. I see much of the advice you are getting or dispensing has little to do with what the Bible says is important about a church.

That being said I am impressed by your initiative and my family and I have prayed for you to find the right path. I hope you can come worship with us again! God bless you both.

Jeff Higgins