Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Good Shepard Methodist Church, Charlotte NC

Church Field Trip # 24

I love it when people who are not regular church attenders volunteer to attend a worship service with us. Their viewpoint on the service is invaluable to me. So imagine my elated surprise when my good friend told me that he visited a church while on vacation and had written a report on the experience.

Victor Mayoli (author of My Living Mind) is our first guest reporter. While visting his grandmother and mother in North Carolina, Victor decided to do a Church Field Trip Report of his own, unsolicited. Here's a little background on Victor's spiritual upbringing. He grew up attending a Catholic school and usually attended church with his family on holidays. He says that he probably has not been to church at all in the past couple years.

Here is Victor's report:

Before I start I have to warn you that I am not a consistent church goer and I do not have a deep understanding of the mechanics of the christian church. I'm just a guy trying to learn more about religion and I think that by visiting at least one church every once in a while I will be able to slowly grow my understanding of what kind of worship services I enjoy and maybe someday become a fixture at a local church.

We visited Good Shepherd Methodist Church in Charlotte,NC for their Sunday 11:30 service. There were about 400 people in attendance . I'm no expert, but that seems like a pretty good turnout. We arrived about 15 minutes early and received the general hello from several people but the only official welcome was from Talbot Davis, the pastor, as we waited inside the sanctuary, reading their materials and absorbing the atmosphere. He was very pleasant and energetic without being pushy. He even attempted to say a word or two in Spanish for my grandmother which impressed me, especially being in Charlotte. I also noted that he made it his job to greet everyone before the service started.

There was a full band with a drummer, guitarist and lead singer on a grand piano at the center of the stage. We started with 4 songs. The music seemed pretty normal; nothing too exciting but the vibe was light and upbeat. As a side note l noticed that there were translators for the deaf (I don't know if this is standard in churches but it was a nice touch). Once we were finished with the singing (the 4 songs were a little too similar to each other and didn't show enough variety for my own personal tastes) Pastor Davis came up and presented the theme of the month: Remedy. His presentation reminded me of Steve Jobs and his mannerisms.

His main point was Labels and how people put them on us and we put them on ourselves. He stated that we need to break away from the labels of society and rise above them. He mentioned that he likes to go out and not tell people that he is a pastor (avoiding the labels) so he can be with average people and talk to them in a normal way without them freaking out and thinking they have to act a certain way or become extremely religious all of a sudden. The focus of the sermon was "don't live the negative label, but let the Lord give you a label of love and peace." The main scripture he referenced during the sermon was: Luke 1:46-55 - The Magnificat: Mary's Song of Praise. "No matter the labels that people put on Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus. She knew in her heart that she was blessed with the best gift of all." He finished the service with a communion-like handing out of labels: relabeling all of us as BELOVED by God.

As we walked out, the atmosphere was calm and comfortable with a very friendly feeling of people that were really happy that we were there. And the thing I was most skeptical about - "the offering", surprisingly never came up. Only as we were leaving did I notice some people collecting away from the door allowing you to go to them in a non-confrontational manner (this was significant to me). I have been to quite a few churches in my search for something that sparked my religious interest. In those experiences I would have to say that the majority of the churches have pressed for money before, during, and after the worship.

Well, I had a great time at this church and look forward to going to more worship services, learning a little bit more along the way.

3 comments:

michael said...

SO THAT'S TWO REPORTS IN A ROW WHERE SOMEONE WAS ACUTELY AWARE OF THE OFFERING TAKING PLACE IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER.

INTERESTING.

Mayoliv said...

Thanks for posting the story. I am excited for the next one. I'm searching around for the right place.

revolution said...

How'd you like to go with me to Iglesia Cristiana Segadores de Vida? It is the fastest growing church in the United States. It is in Hollywood. And it is Spanish-speaking, but apparently they have English translation available.

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