Monday, January 08, 2007

Church #27: Vineyard Church of Columbus

1. Who attended? Bradley, Erica & Erica B.

2. How welcome did you feel at this church?
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 B: 8, then 5.
BRADLEY: 5, this was an odd church

3. Pictures of the church:

4. Name/location of the church:
Vineyard Church of Columbus
6000 Cooper Road
Westerville, OH 43081

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
Yeah, it kind of was... Bradley and I were visiting friends in Columbus for the weekend, and our friend picked a church she'd heard of.

6. Time/duration of services:

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

8. Who did you meet?
Many people welcomed us but we didn't meet anyone.

9. Church Hopper's personal experience with the church, additional details:

ERICA: I'm going to let Erica B's little blurb sum up most of it... because it does exactly that. This is one of the two physically largest churches we've been to, and that was impressive, especially since it was very full by ten minutes into service.

One thing that I didn't like was when they asked who the visitors were. I've talked about this before, with another church-- I hate being singled out when I'm brand new there. Once you raised your hand, they gave you a registration card and a free CD, which I thought was awesome-- but I bet if it was my first time there (and I wasn't used to visiting churches), I wouldn't have raised my hand just so people didn't stare at me. Maybe that's just me, but I doubt it-- especially when you're surrounded with as many people as I was on Sunday.

As for the rest, Erica B pretty much nailed it in good detail. I felt welcome in most ways, as people greeted us and shook our hands and gave us a CD, but things still felt detached for me. Oh! But I should mention that they invited new people to meet the pastors after the service-- they were very clear about wanting us to do that, but unfortunately at the end we were kind of uncomfortable because of the "come down and accept the Lord" twist in the sermon, so we left afterwards. Not the church's fault, really-- I appreciated the gesture.

ERICA B: Erica and Bradley came up to Columbus this weekend, and I was very excited that I'd be able to be a guest-hopper again! They let me pick the church, so I told them about Vineyard Columbus - a large church complex that isn't very far from where I live, and one that I've received invitations and seen advertisements for.

The place is huge, but finding our way around wasn't really a problem since the auditorium was clearly marked. Inside the auditorium were cushioned chairs set up in pew arrangements, and a balcony that had wide steps with additional seating on them. I wanted to sit up in the balcony to ensure we'd have a clear view of everything, which we certainly did.

There were two large screens that displayed announcements before the music began. We were welcomed by at least one person walking by, and everyone seemed very friendly. In general, I felt that this church was very inviting and excited by newcomers. The music was great - it was contemporary songs performed by a band, and everyone seemed to be singing along. There were even a few getting into the music so much that they began to dance and wave their arms around. The singer was really good, too, which made it even more enjoyable. Personally, I prefer singing traditional hymns, but the music was definitely suited to the contemporary style of the church.

After the music was some additional announcements, communion, and the offering. They had an interesting way to do communion - there were small containers of juice and crackers at each entrance, and everyone was welcome to pick them up as they entered. Everyone took communion at once, led by the pastor. It was a very efficient process, and made it less awkward for those who chose not to partake (myself included), but that also seemed to make it less personal, at least in my opinion. But with such a large congregation, I can definitely see the benefit in doing things that way.

The sermon, led by the senior pastor, started off good but declined for me as it progressed. Some of what was said conflicted with my personal beliefs - not that I wasn't prepared for that, but an uncomfortable situation nonetheless. The discussion of Hurricane Katrina, along with what was said about sexual relationships as prescribed by the Bible are two things that stick out in my head.

At the end of the sermon, the pastor asked anyone who wished to accept Jesus in their life to stand and pray with him. Many people stood, which I'm sure was a difficult thing for them to do, but this process also made me uncomfortable. I guess to me, religious beliefs are very personal, and the idea of standing up in front of a very large congregation to profess something that personal seemed very awkward and strange.

Again, those are my personal feelings - everyone has a different way of doing things. I just don't feel as comfortable with stuff like that. In any case, I felt that although I had been welcomed as a first-time visitor, the content of the sermon turned me off and made me feel more uncomfortable than I had when I arrived.

Brad: It's always been hard for me to say something critical about a church I didn't care for, because I don't want to make it sound horrible-but I always try to point out something I didn't care for.

This church was very odd. It was as large as some of the churches we've been to before, and could quite a large about of people. The outside of the church looked just like the Crossroads. I was a little excited, seeing how this was such a large church. It started off with a few songs (too many for my taste) which were performed by some great singers. After a while of that, they moved on to the opening announcements, followed by the preacher's main sermon.

Now, it wasn't the man himself I didn't like, it was the things he was saying. He talked about Hurricane Katrina, which particularly confused me, and what he had to say about how people should be together also struck a cord, because of my beliefs. It just all seemed too personal, and way to involved. I like a sermon to ask a question in my mind, not tell me what I'm doing is wrong.


eric wright said...

I have never been to the Columbus Vineyard, but I have heard that it is good.

I am trying to understand something. I have seen you mention several times (I know it is a different person making the point this time, but it is still there) about the pastor saying something they believe in that you don't.

How could a pastor, in the message, bring up what they believe to be true in such a way that would help people understand what is being taught without feeling attacked?

The pastor obviously has beliefs and his message should be a reflection of those beliefs. Believe me there are times when a pastor has said something that I as a Christian have not agreed with. But how could he/she state their position so that others could understand what is being taught but not feel attacked?

stephanie said...

I'm not sure how a pastor could, especially from the pulpit. That's probably why the term "preaching" has evolved into another meaning in recent years.

As Derek Webb so candidly wrote:

"the truth is never sexy/so it's not an easy sell/you can dress her like the culture/but she'll shock 'em just as well/because she don't need an apology for being who she is"

Obviously a pastor's opinion can be different than the truth, but those lines are blurry sometimes. That's what makes it all so interesting to me.

Erica said...

In response to Eric -

The question you posed is difficult to answer, but since I'm the one that brought up the topic in this post, I'll give it a shot. ;)

I think that for me, as a visitor to a church, I am very interested in finding out where a church (and a pastor) stands on certain key issues. If I were to settle on a particular church, I would want to retain the views and decisions i have carefully made based on my morals and life experience while learning more from the church about my personal spirituality. When I listen to a sermon and hear things that blatantly go against what I already know to be true in my heart, it's a clear indication to me that I haven't found the right place to be. That isn't meant to be a slam against this particular church or any other; it is just my personal opinion.

I think the pastor should absolutely talk about what they believe to be true in their sermon. The congregation, after listening and learning, will take away a great deal of information and insight from a knowledgeable pastor. And as a visitor, I will use that information to determine if I agree - or whether or not I have been sufficiently convinced one way or the other. I'm not sure that there's any way to present ideas to people that don't agree with them without making them feel uncomfortable. But anyone coming to a church for the first time, in my opinion, should be prepared for the possibility of having their personal beliefs challenged - for better or worse.

eric wright said...

Thanks Erica,

I have just noticed that on several posts, the point has been made that you (or someone attending with you) didn't agree with a stance the pastor took. And I was just interested in how you thought that should be handled. Because there is no way to please everyone and no way to hold an opinion that everyone holds.

Usually, when I have preached, I have tried to demonstrate that I understand the other side(s) of what is being discussed. I want to understand the viewpoint of others, especially if I don't agree, because I don't want to cheapen their stance or undermine their intelligence. I don't want to knock over straw men. If I am going to interact with something, I want the other side to receive a fair hearing and representation as I hope they would with me.

Thanks again for the insight.

Anonymous said...

I think that church goers / shoppers should be insightful enough to know the difference between a preacher pushing his personal opinions on his congregation and a preacher who speaks God's word. The former is called a cult, the later is what real church is all about (read Ephesians if you're truly curious... or don't if all you want to do is bad mouth church). Regardless, I have been "church shopping" in Columbus for 2 years now. Searching for a real church, lead by knowledgeable christians who do God's work. PLENTY of churches out there sleeping and paralyzed by public opinions such as yours. My opinion?... the preachers at Vineyard are real, they truly care about their flock, they speak God's word (plenty of bible verses flashed on the screens) and yes they talk about Katrina, and AIDS, and clean water for Africa, etc..... because they have a social conscious! Not because they judge, they finance tons of programs that directly help these victims. If what the preacher said made you uncomfortable, then you just missed out on a great opportunity to become a better person/ christian. Whether you like it or not the Vineyard speaks God's truth, sometimes the truth is hard to hear, but just like any parent or mature person will tell you, the truth may hurt you now, but it will definitely set you free (I know, very cliche of me). Anyway, best of luck everyone finding your spiritual home. Beware of "churches" that make you feel comfortable, they may just be pacifying your soul right to hell (OK, little dramatic I know...) God Bless !

Anonymous said...

The Bradley person seems ot have a prbolemw ith what teh pastor said about sexual relations. What did you go to chruch for. So that you could here what you like. Unless your a mdoerate. Which is defined as a person who doesnt really belive or even know about converting as in acknolwedge salvation through a savior, but merely calls themselve a christian becuase they are an american patriot and consider themselves relatively nice, why have problems with the discussion of sexual relations. I am goign to take a shot since Bradley said he didnt want so body to tell him what hewas doing is wrong that thete is sexual activity. A pastors job is to convey the message of the bible otherwise, he shouldnt be pastoring. While many contemporary pastor oavid the subject of sex in the context of marriage for fear that people will get up and leave there church, I am always glad when pastors go ahead and preach the message of sexual purity anyway. It is biblical and consider all the babies born to unwed mothers, all the child custody cases and abortions. Many cases thast wouldnt even show up if people did utilize sex the way the bible instructs God intend. So if a person is goign to get upset about that. they ahve to make a decison whether they are goign to keep going to that church and change their own heart about the matter or go so place else where they sugar coat everythign and only give you have truths. Everyone has a choice-vev

jesus lover of my soul said...

A site to rate churches based on your opinions? Wow. You talk about what the pastor preacher talked about that you didn't like. Well, I'm not sure you really know much about Christ and the struggle the early Christians had. Christ preached and wasn't not accepted by many people. The gospel is not going to be liked by you if you are gay because it speaks clearly about. If you are into sleeping around and other things like hat, quite naturally you are not going to like the Gospel. So keep on church hopping and picking and choosing about what sounds good for you and never accept your shortcomings. I am praying for you, hope you find what you are looking for before the rapture, or do you believe in the rapture?

A site to cri

Anonymous said...

Well I appreciate the post, I've grown up listening to sermons and yes some are better than others. By the sounds of it I probably wouldn't of cared for this sermon either.

Anonymous said...

I had and have been to the Vineyard. It seems to have good reputation in the community but I am wondering about some of its beliefs. I have lately been checking every church as to how it is integrated to include people of all races. There is no problem there. A church should always be open and never discriminate against people. I do have some negatives however. When an organization of this size appears to be faced with even a small or conceived idea that someone member or non member has even a question or even a slightly negative comment, then this mega organization is somehow against them. It should be seen as constructive as to better the church if that condition is improved. Such is NOT the case with the Vineyard Columbus. They also require tithing as a condition of membership. Rich Nathan, the senior pastor, stated that even the poorest person still had to pay tithes or they were, according to Malachi the prophet, they were robbing God. Tithing, by the way , is OLD TESTAMENT LAW. Rich Nathan is Hebrew, or Jewish and quite acquainted with the old testament, and of course, the law, and being a law student himself. Tithing is NOT a requirement, nor should it be, because it puts Christians back under the law. Even so , some persons in other churches have been sent letters that tell them "tithe or get out." Big problem with "I was naked and you clothed me, or I was a stranger and you took me in."
In addition, the founder of the Vineyard, Wimber, also states that a Christian can be possessed by demons. Now how could that be? If a person accepts Christ, then they have the Spirit of Christ living inside them. So it would be quite uncomfortable for a demon to co-exist with Jesus in the same temple! Bull crap. Another cult type teaching. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I am an ex-member of the Vineyard Columbus. I did some look up 2 pages on cults, and found that several attributes on the cults match the Vineyard. I had also knowledge reportedly by a uniformed police officer, and a Christian, that he had a friend go to the Vineyard for help. She was treated so badly by the Vineyard that she committed suicide! I was treated badly after I started asking "too many questions" and mentioned some negatives that I discovered. I was rejected right away on these. The Vineyard does NOT want to hear of anything negative about the church. Question: How do you fix something that is broken or how can you fix something if it is ignored? The vineyard has a negative history of hurting people, and many people leaving, and that includes pastors. I was put on a "restricted membership" but I had already made up my mind that I was going to resign. So I did. The leadership demanded I submit written and signed apologies to people of things where I was not guilty. Well, I refused. It looked too much like some sort of "blackmail." Anything they could use against me if I admitted to it, especially in writing. Hmmm. Think about that!

Anonymous said...

No, no, no. STAY AWAY FROM THE VINEYARD or they have ways to trick you and own you. And for God's sake and your own, "Don't drink the cool aid!!!"