Monday, August 13, 2007

Calvary Fellowship

Church Field Trip #9
Calvary Fellowship

This is one of the first churches that I put on my list for field trips, and we finally hit it this week. Pastor Bob Franquiz (33) started this church a few years ago with a half dozen people (2 of them left after the very first week, he told us), and Calvary Fellowship has now grown to over 500 people in worship every week. He has been sought after by pastors/conferences for counsel on "How to do portable church in a movie theater successfully", but he guards his time jealously, reserving it for his family. "Some pastors give in to their egos, and the enticement can be very alluring, but it just isn't for me", he says.

Upon arrival at the theater, minutes early, we received three standard greetings. The set-up in the lobby was pretty cool, though being in a theater has its advantages. They had a bunch of books and media for sale (NOOMA videos, Every Man's Marriage, Elements:Starting a Revolution, as well as a couple of t-shirts, one of which read "Not Your Grandma's Church"). They also had a refreshment area with a few cappuccino machines, and Cuban bread. There were quite a few people milling around and hanging out.

The worship music was rockin, led by Mark Rodriguez (29). This was the hardest rocking set we've heard yet, done in the style of Passion (David Crowder, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Jeremy Camp) - palatable rock. I especially enjoyed the short instrumental improv jam given while we were encouraged to take a minute to fill out our guest cards. The bulletin noted that "the services are rated PG-13, children are not permitted in the main sanctuary."

The intro video for the sermon series "Supernatural: Rediscovering the Real Jesus" was very well done, using a clip of Audioslave's "Show Me How to Live" which got the blood pumping. Pastor Bob's sermon was titled "Inside Out" - referencing Mark 7:1-23 (NKJV). He talked about the "christian culture" and "grumpy Christians" who perpetuate such myths as "secular music is the devil." Bob was funny, entertaining, and more important, he was very down-to-earth. Here are some notable quotes from the sermon:

  • "what matters, is not what goes into your mouth, but what comes out of your heart"

  • "people like Jesus, but often, they don't like Christians"

  • "God is concerned with your heart"

  • "Christians/religious leaders make rules to control external actions/behavior"

  • "Jesus breaks those rules, to change the heart, and free us from rules"

  • "making 'my rules' into rules for everyone"

  • "'traditions of the elders' = our opinions"

  • "religious leaders make excuses, rules, and justifications"

  • "spiritual growth is not automatic, it takes effort"

  • "Corban (an excuse) is a gift dedicated to God in name only, but not in action."

  • "Jesus died for us so we can be forgiven"
James 2:19 was the verse that led to Bob's salvation, making him realize that "belief in God" isn't enough.

  • "make a decision/make a commitment to follow Jesus, from your heart, not just your lips"

  • "turn away/walk away from a life of excuses"

  • "Jesus came to give us life"
He also pushed a four-week class they host, called "Starting Point" for new believers. I think I actually heard a sigh of relief from my wife as he closed by delivering the Gospel. After two months, I suppose it has come to that. After the service we went to the "Ten Minute Party" (a chance for newcomers to get to know the pastors) where we spent some time talking with Pastor Bob, and we were given a gift - "Elements:Starting a Revolution in Your World." I've already finished it (took less than 2 hours), it was a great book with a lot of keepers; I'll review it later in a separate post (I actually had to bust out my highlighter for this book).

Follow-up: We received a hand-written note from Pastor Bob, the very next day. (Not a note where he fills in our names, nor a note where he fills in his name. But a note that was completely hand-written, kudos. I like that kind of effort and personal attention.)
Continuing Follow-up: We received a one month anniversary letter from the church encouraging us to come back to visit them. If we bring the letter to their service, they'll give us a free gift, Life's Toughest Questions.

I have to say this. Between the Ten-Minute Party, which guarantees face-time with the pastors to new-comers, the hand-written note from Bob on the subsequent day of our visit, and the one-month removed invite back to the church; this church has pretty much whooped all the other churches in the category of .... well, I can't think of the category, but these guys are killin it!


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