Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Solera Church

Church Field Trip Report #7

A friend of ours found the website for Solera church and was struck by it's apparent diversity. We decided to check it out, especially since it is very close geographically (apparently they've been here for 20 years, but have only recently changed their name to Solera).

First off, they definitely lived up to the hype - easily the most diverse church I've seen (age, race, and class), they were very friendly (introductions by name/conversational), and also lively. Upon entry, we were greeted numerous times and given a gift - "In His Steps", a book by Charles Sheldon. Interestingly, they've taken two buildings in an office/warehouse area and transformed them into a church. Without the signage, you could drive by it and never know it was there.

Their statement of faith leans towards Pentecostalism but in practice, they seemed more charismatic (i.e. there was no outward evidence of "speaking in tongues"). Though non-denominational, they are a part of a networking/covenant group called "7000 more".

The Senior Pastor, Jimmy Mas was leading by example during worship (he has been the pastor for more than 20 years). His wife, Pastor Terrie, spoke with us briefly before and after the service (she is the executive pastor as well as the chief financial officer). The worship was energetic and contemporary, and the most refreshing aspect was the level of audience participation - this was a congregation who were there to worship. Also, it was loud, and I happen to like loud. During worship, Pastor Jimmy spoke to us about worshipping with passion and liberty - comparing our heavenly adoption to U.S. citizenship, "realize your freedom and the price that was paid for it."

His sermon, titled "Getting your ear to the ground" was based on Matthew 24. All of his scripture references were given in the New Living Translation, a "more modern version" as he described it. He walked us through the chapter, telling us , as Jesus did, to recognize the "signs of the times." He complained that too many Christians "don't read their Bible, don't worship effectively, don't fast, don't pray, and don't even get together regularly." Adding, "If you haven't been here in over a month, I'm not your pastor, I'm just your friend.

During the sermon, which lasted well over an hour (I'm not complaining, mind you) he also referenced Matt. 16:1-4, Ephes. 5:15-17, I Cor. 15:58, and Acts 20:24. I have to tell you right now that this guy was not just humorous, he was uproariously funny, and also sarcastic.

He spoke of the hope that we Christians live for - the return of Jesus. He spoke of false prophets, particularly those who get the media's attention. (He specifically referenced Carlton Pearson. Last year, I listened to a great podcast story about Pearson's heresy and downfall.)

Some notable excerpts from his sermon:

  • famine and AIDS in Africa kill over 11 million people every day

  • Mas leans toward a doctrine of "eternal security", but he's not convinced, saying, "people are dumb, if they want to walk away from God, I believe that they are able."

  • He spoke of those who have the audacity to "Grade the Pastor" ("good sermon today, pastor" or "I don't like what you said today, pastor"), and he said that he always has the same response, "I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK." (I can appreciate that, duly noted.)

  • called us a Malachi generation and told us to read Malachi

  • "don't live with your head in the clouds, just be alert"

  • "repent, because everyone will face judgement before Jesus"

  • "I believe in full, full, full freedom"

  • "when this church first began, a salvation message was preached every Sunday, but we didn't get fed" - (I guess you know what this means, right? No-show on the Gospel once again. I give up. I guess I just have evangelist leanings and I'll leave it at that.)

At the close of service we were led by Pastor Jimmy in a time (10 minutes or so) of "Open Worship" - I'm not sure how to describe it, really. The best word I can think of would be "chaotic", though more serene and meaningful than the pentecostal version we experienced a few weeks ago. He prayed, sang/spoke "on the fly" and he encouraged the entire congregation to do the same (pray out loud, sing out loud - no particular song). Whenever it would start to get quiet, he would encourage/goad the congregation to "shout/sing" to the Lord a new song from their heart. (This is the part where I was surprised to hear no tongues.) It was a little weird, a bit awkward, but hey, to each his own, and whatever floats their boat. I've claimed to be down with the charisma after all, so I might as well get used to it. Ironically, Jimmy make a crack on Baptists by saying that if they could have it their way, "sex with your wife would consist of nothing more than a handshake."

We'll probably go back to Solera next month to check out their "Rock Wednesdays" - a time of "Open Ended Worship". (Wait, you mean more open ended than what I already experienced - I'm there.)

Follow-up: We were having such a good time at this church, that we forgot to fill out a visitor card, so there'll be no follow-up of course.


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