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.