Monday, July 10, 2006

Ft Wayne - Part 2

After a great evening with the Christensen’s and Level.13 (read below from yesterday’s post)…we got up and hit the hotel breakfast bar early to begin another round of church visits.

We started out with the 8:15a service at a church that everyone in town told us was “the place to go” in Ft Wayne. It is a great ministry that has gained a well-deserved reputation for outreach and connecting with families of all ages. They also put a real focus on racial diversity.

One down side was the inaccuracy of the website. It told us that there was full children’s ministry at all the services (including the early one we attended). However they had closed the early service children’s ministry for the summer, while failing to inform the website manager. Our kids were pretty disappointed to have to come and sit with Mom and Dad. But they perked up when it came time for announcements. You heard me right! The announcements rocked! They did all kinds of silly video and dramatic elements (including a 250 lb. African American linebacker dancing across the stage in a pink tu-tu and singing Bohemian Rhapsody to lyrics about their food pantry) to promote upcoming events. It was one of the most creative things I had ever seen. It was worth going to this church just to see the announcements!

The other downside was the volume of the music. The band sounded weak and anemic and barely loud enough to fill the room (probably because they wanted to keep it subtle for the early service). I think that really diminished people’s connection to the worship times.

But all around this was a great church with a true heart for Christ. The greeters were friendly but really had no idea what was going on for children’s ministry that morning. They had to ask 3 or 4 people just to find out what was going on for kids. Until… they took us to Jorja at the Information Desk. She made us her personal project for the morning. She showed us around the building before the worship service began. And then when we sat down, she must have kept an eye on us. Because as soon as the service ended she zipped right up behind us and said, a “Let’s show you the rest of the building and try to answer some more questions for you”. She then proceeded to introduce us to different staff members and just generally served as the ultimate host.

Jorja was the perfect example of someone who breaks down the boundaries of awkwardness that exists when you walk into a new environment as a stranger. I pray that God will continue to raise up Jorja’s who will make it their personal responsibility to make people feel welcome in the fellowship of believers. It is a hugely intimidating experience for many people to walk into a church and God uses people like Jorja to make the love of Jesus real and practical in a tangible way.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the next church visit of the morning (one of the main reasons we came to Ft Wayne this weekend).