Monday, November 13, 2006

Oak Hills Church of Christ- WOW!

I happened upon this article and thought I would add it to this post, since it provides at least one perspective on the dynamics of a church. Interesting, also, that there seem to be some correlations to what I previously noted in the post. Just click on the link.

Since my cabin is within about 35-40 minutes of Oak Hills Church, where Max Lucado is the minister, I decided to visit there this morning. Wow, I could feel the energy as I was entering the parking lot! Hundreds, or maybe thousands, of people converging on the building. And there was something about them...they seemed excited, enthusiastic, young. It felt more like going to a big football game than the typical church. Even the sheriff's deputies directing traffic were quick with a "good morning, have a good day."

Yes, even the parking arrangements made it clear something big was happening. The parking lots, which were massive, were one-way, flow through. Enter on one side, exit on the other. As I became more familiar with the proceedings, it only made sense. There are several services-at least 3 this morning as well as others on Saturday and Sunday night. Normal traffic patterns in the parking lot would lead to gridlock with crowds arriving as others are leaving.

Inside the building was no less energetic. The building had the feel of a mall at Christmas, with teeming crowds moving about the various booths, the visitor center, the education wing, the bookstore. To be honest, I've never seen anything like it.

I'm not sure what to make of the service itself. Dozens availed themselves of the opportunity offered before the sermon to have an elder pray with them or to approach a prayer alter for private prayer. The sermon was a short, simple, but effective lesson typical of Max. No invitation, just something to get you thinking. I was a bit disappointed with the music...I'd hoped for an inspirational, powerful acapella, but instead there was keyboard, band and praise team with minimal audience participation. Felt a bit too much like a performance rather than worship, right down to the applause after each song. Of course, with so many people and so many services, no one recognized me as a visitor and so I missed the brother to brother interaction that I always look forward to at church, and which I think Hebrews 10:24-25 indicates is a big reason we meet. A few people did speak to me...all were visitors looking for information!!

One interesting side story. As I was leaving I saw a tall man entering. My first thought was that he looked familiar, and the first name that came to mind was David Robinson. A figment of my imagination I thought, until I heard the 3 women just ahead of me turn around and look, saying with as much surprise as I felt, "That was David Robinson!". Since I'm no fan of papparatsi(probably misspelled, but even my spell check doesn't recognize it and I can't find it in my 4" thick Webster's Unabridged), there'll be no pictures in this edition.

I'm glad that I went, and my experience was contrasted this evening when I attended the small conservative congregation here in Bandera. There was no crowd, little of the energy and excitement, but a very nice sister I've known less than a week called me by name and mentioned that she had missed me this morning. Most of the people in the congregation spoke to me and mentioned that they were glad to have me visit again and I could hear their rough voices belting out praises to God.

All this brings back to me questions that I often ponder...What makes one place thrive, while another struggles? Why is there great energy at one congregation, quiet determination in another? What is the trigger for excitement? What is best, the energetic atmosphere and crowds or the place where everyone knows your name and considers how to stimulate you to love and good deeds? I know it all comes from God, from the Spirit, but what is the proper combination to unlock the enthusiasm, the energy? Is it the personalities of the leadership? That seems likely from one vantage point, but it hardly seems likely God would leave his kingdom to such vagaries. Okay, this blog does have a comment feature and I really would like to have your perspective!!!

Until next time, may the Lord bless you and keep you!

1 comment:

nemattox said...

I have thought about these questions off and on since you posted them here, and I honestly have no idea, except to say that I believe that God is in control of the growing churches and the struggling churches alike. Perhaps this has more to do with the needs of different people in different areas?