Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Independence Church

Church Field Trip #26

I caught wind of this new church plant through the grapevine. Once each month during October, November, and December, Independence Church (Weston, FL) held a preview service. Each of these services was intended not only to build momentum with the community but also to give the church itself a chance to "practice" having a worship service. I should note that this is a popular way to go about planting a new church, as opposed to the more organic approach taken by churches such as Epic Remix. We attended the "launch" service for Independence - they've made a big marketing push this month advertising in the Herald, Sun-Sentinel, on Y100, and sending out mailers to just about every resident in the area.

The bi-vocational pastor, Nathan Griffis, moved to Weston from Orlando with the express purpose of starting Independence Church. Personally, I believe that it is absolutely necessary for a pastor to actually move into the community they are trying to reach with the message of Jesus. A pastor who is unwilling to become a member of the community that they claim to be ministering to isn't really trying to reach the community at all. I speak from personal experience, because that is exactly what my wife and I did almost 3 years ago. We picked up and moved directly into the heart of the community in which we were ministering. And we are still here - inviting the neighbors over for dinners/parties and building relationships and trust. Nathan recently invited his entire neighborhood to a party and was then scolded by his homeowners' association for "spamming" the neighborhood. Gotta love South Florida.

I usually do not have much to say about a church's website, but in this case I will divulge a bit about it. Mostly, I report on the experience of attending a church's worship service, but I do believe that the website experience for a church is supremely important as it serves as the first impression that one gets from a church. With that in mind, I could not find a map or driving directions on the website for Independence Church. With no map or driving directions, it was a little tricky finding the service, but we did manage it. Despite not including a way to actually find their service, the website did dedicate a couple of pages of interest: The Three-Month Money-back Guarantee Tithing Challenge and a page of Frequently Asked Questions concerning Tithing. Curious.

As we arrived at Sagemont School, we received two standard greetings. There were probably about 50 people in attendance for this "launch" service. Nathan explained that they still have not found a worship leader for their church. The band that lead worship, Asa, is out of Homestead and on loan for the next couple weeks only. If you are out there and you'd like to be a worship leader, you might want to contact Nathan about it.

After worship, there was a 10 minute intermission which gave everyone a chance to mingle, meet new people, and grab some coffee or pastries. In the coming weeks, Nathan is going to teach through the book of Ephesians, one chapter each week. Obviously, this week dealt with Ephesians 1. Here are a few notable excerpts from the sermon:

"God doesn't need us, He chooses us."

"At some point, we all test the water and ask God, 'Are you real?'"

"What God wills, He makes happen, in spite of us."

"We have a rule around here at Independence: Ask someone how they're doing and actually care about their response."

Nathan weaved the message of the Gospel in throughout the sermon. I suppose I could note that this was the shortest sermon I've ever heard. I'd swear it only lasted 20 minutes (I could be wrong.) Maybe it just seemed that way because the sermon at Mosaic clocked in at almost an hour and a half.

In the past 8 months, I've become more aware of the incorporation of prayer into a worship service without any real preference on my own part. I did notice, though, that we didn't pray corporately until the end of the service when we "prayed over the offering." Up until that point, I was starting to wonder if we were going to pray corporately at all.

After the service, Nathan caught us as we were heading out the door and we were able to speak to him for about 5 minutes about the hardships of planting a church, and about his search for a worship leader.

Follow-up: We received a hand-written note from Nathan that also included a $10 gift card to Border's.

1 Comment:

michael said...

apparently this church must have some serious bills to pay, even though they're only one week into it?

maybe churches should have two websites. one for visitors and one for members.

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