It's interesting to read someone's view of what you spend all of your time on. :-) Interesting. Anybody out there have other thoughts? Agree/ Disagree?
The Harvest (BC) is Plentiful!This past Sunday, Jeannie and I visited Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicagoland area.
I can see why HBC might appeal to a lot of 2nd Gens... Good teaching, but also they aren't too pushy... you can easily take your time in getting used to a new church and go at your own pace; or alternatively, you could just as easily remain a face in the crowd if that's your thing.
As we entered the main sanctuary, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Matt Stowell was the main worship leader. I knew that the former president of Moody Bible Institute, Joe Stowell, came over to HBC as teaching pastor. I had heard that it was because his son also served on staff, so I put two and two together and saw the family connection. However, I was thumbing through the church bulletin and it listed Joe Stowell Sr., Joe Stowell Jr., and Matt Stowell! I then figured that Matt must be a nephew or something, but no, turns out he's Stowell's youngest son.
In any case, Matt was a great worship leader, not too in-your-face, very soothing, in fact. I was somewhat surprised to see that they did some pretty old school songs (songs that I would have led back in my heyday): All Who Are Thirsty, Awesome In this Place, Enough, Breathe, In the Presence... I guess that's what you would call "Adult Contemporary."
Some technical observations from a worship-standpoint:
No one on the worship team used a music stand! The absence of stands made it feel like the worship team was more accessible (whatever that means). I did notice, however, that they projected the screen on 3 main screens at the front and one smaller screen at the back so that they team could read the lyrics. Pretty good use of technology to create the sense of intimacy. At the same time, it was kind of weird because we sat left of center, at an angle, and the male background vocalist was the only one facing us. He looked kind of isolated from the rest of the team and even more so since he didn't have a mic stand, music stand or anything!
The sound was good, but it seemed like kind of a waste: you could clearly hear the vocalists, but you had to strain to hear the quality music, which I would have liked to hear more of. I was also disappointed that the nature of the selected songs did not emphasize the electric guitar, which I love to hear more of these days too!
The songs were arranged well - you could tell they put a lot of planning into the order and transitions - however, when they wanted to quiet a song down, they were pretty free with their spontaneous singing (which, btw, was tastefully done - not over-the-top at all). There's a saying I learned in seminary regarding spontaneity: An environment of order gives the Spirit license to move spontaneously. The thought behind this thinking is that when you prepare well, and the Holy Spirit moves, then you know exactly how to respond to His moving.
Now on to James MacDonald! Well, many of us have heard him on Christian radio on Walk In The Word... I'll have to admit, MacDonald preaches rhythmically and very quickly... I don't know how he did it, but he preached through 72 verses in less than an hour AND... it's Tuesday and I still remember his message: When Christians obey God, we receive His blessings, we get persecuted, and then we receive more blessings. It was definitely not geared for "seekers" and I'd classify it as for mature Christians... but it was good to hear and a nice reminder that Christians cannot expect to coast through life when God is on our side; however, there is the promise of future blessings, maybe not on earth, but definitely in Heaven.
On a side note, you know how on the radio MacDonald comes off as "in your face"? Well, he really is... every time he walked over to where we were sitting, I was just praying that he wouldn't yell at me! He actually approached people in the congregation and conversed with them or yelled at them (to illustrate his points). I'm sure that when you're a member, you don't mind because that's just how your pastor is... but from a newcomer's p.o.v., I was terrified at the thought of him calling me out in public.
It'll be interesting to see where we go next week...