Fellowship Surprises!

March 2009


Bernie Powell“I’ve never been to a church like this before.” It’s a comment I hear often. No, The Fellowship is not totally unique in these areas. But for some people, given their background in other churches, there are some surprises at The Fellowship. The following are based on actual comments I have heard.
I’ve never been in a church where my kids actually like Sunday School.
The warm caring of dedicated teachers provides a creative, active learning environment. Kids ask to come back. Even teenagers. And the diet is richly Bible centered, not just entertainment or glorified babysitting. Kids even beg to come to weeknight clubs and youth groups.
I’ve never been in a church where so many adults go to Sunday School.
The majority of our adults are involved in one of six Adult Bible Fellowships on a Sunday morning. Still more are in small groups throughout the week. Here they discover the rich life of a mini-church or a micro-church within the bigger church. Faith Quest is a great place to start.
I’ve never been in a church where people love to sing so much.
There are, of course, other singing churches. But for some, our Sunday morning is a new kind of experience. Not just religious karaoke, but an outpouring of heartfelt worship.
I’ve never been in a church with a worship band where you can hear anything else.
We are blessed with two highly gifted bands that understand their role to accompany congregational singing and worship, not to be the center stage performance.
I’ve never been in church where people stay so long after the service.
Instead of a mad rush for the door, to be first out of the parking lot, many linger in conversation over a cup of coffee in the Family Activity Center. Warm fellowship is our practice, not just our name.
I’ve never been in a church that sends so many missionaries.
We are serious about world evangelism. That’s why so many of our people lay down their careers and their lives to bring the love and the truth of Jesus to hard places. Not just a summer trip. (We do that, too.) But long term to dig in, learn the language and culture, to make a difference.
I’ve never been in a church where you can’t tell who the pastor is!
We are not a pastor-centered church. So many gifted leaders take part in the service that some people come 2-3 weeks before they are sure which one of us is pastor. As pastor, I preach the sermon most of the time. Yet . . .
I’ve never been in a church where so many board members are able to preach.
Are they ever! The Fellowship is led by a band of mature Christian men called, according to Bible terminology, elders. They are co-shepherds of the church along with the staff pastor. They are essentially lay pastors, just as I am a staff elder.
I’ve never been in a church before where they tell us at the outset what they are about.
This was heard recently in Pastor’s Welcome Class. In this four week series, newcomers to The Fellowship are invited to learn about our goals, beliefs, organization, ministries, history, and opportunities for growth. If you know as much as everyone else, you can hit the ground running, instead of spending your first 2-3 years catching up.
I’ve never been in a church where they are so open about scandal.
In many places, scandal is swept under the rug, only whispered about. Many have been stunned by the goal we have for maximum transparency, even about the things we wish weren’t true.
I’ve never been in a church before where offerings are omitted.
Sunday worship service is the time when regular participants in the church family bring an offering to God as an act of worship. We do not take an offering at most other services, concerts, or meetings. The church is not about events for money.
None of these things are totally unique to The Fellowship. And we are far from a perfect church. Nevertheless, many are finding surprises when they attend here.
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