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.