first Church Visit, Delmar Full Gospel Church

Date: 1/1/12

Church: Delmar Full Gospel Church

Pastor: David Gericke

Time Spent: 10am – 12:45pm (includes coffee and bagels after service)

Overall Impression: Good.

Type: this church is an independent one, however the pastor is affiliated with MFI.

*Update 10/6/13 The church was born out of a bible study in 1981. It is not a part of any denomination.

Format: Service opens with musical praise/worship, then a sermon, then prayer with people available to pray with/for you

Thoughts: I was really nervous to start my project. I didn’t know how people would receive my notion of exploring all the area churches. I shouldn’t have been worried, as most of them simply offered to pray that God would lead me. I take that as a complement and a nonjudgmental way of offering support to me even though I was clearly not clamoring for membership. I was mildly surprised by the pastor who warned/advised me that I wouldn’t find a real connection the way I was going about it. Everyone else seemed cool with the idea, and I wasn’t feeling pressured.

I was greeted no less than six times on my way in and inside. Some asked questions about me, others just said ‘Happy New Year’. The praise portion of the service was easy to follow and words to all songs were displayed on screens at the front of the church. There was a very small amount of singing/speaking in tongues. I’ve been exposed to that before and it was very unobtrusive and didn’t bother me. The sermon was about fasting, which is a project this particular church is doing all week long. The pastor suggested fasting food as much as we are called to by God, but to consider other fasts as well. Examples being: Facebook, TV, sarcasm, video games, or texting. In each case we should use the time freed to us to spend with God. He also cautioned that fasting is not meant to entice God to speak or more readily grant our prayers. It is more for us to change our ways and let us experience God through this change. He told a story of a woman called to fast of her criticisms. After the sermon, I talked with a couple more people who came up to greet me, but my best conversation was with a woman who I happened to sit down next to. She was new to this church by several months and considered it home. She spoke about something she has struggled with that sounded major, and she seemed to feel difficulty from this, but it sounds like things are improving. Her manner was really frank and I felt comfortable speaking with her. I said I didn’t know what I’d find with my project but was hoping it would turn out really beneficial to me. We spoke briefly about grace vs. works (one of my favorite topics) and she said she was coming from a place where the focus was on works and she felt grace was left out of the picture. She came newly to the church and wanted to jump in and get going helping out but was told by a member to take it easy for a while and let grace come to her and let the church be for her. I can remember a time I attended a church that needed its members to volunteer and keep doing and doing and I sorely needed a break which was not given to me. I also know that through works we share the goodness that we have and it isn’t good to refrain from works all the time. I guess what I’m saying is that you need both, and it may take effort to remember both. To me grace means- pay attention! God loves you and doesn’t need you to achieve a specific number of good things to earn that love. And works means- It really helps others when you do good things for them, so try to do that if you are able.

Overall Feelings: I felt good after this service. Kind of energized and ready to explore some more. It’s really freeing to not have the burden of others expecting me back again and wondering what to say to them if I return after many months absence. I tend to struggle with guilt on a lot of different levels and aspects of my life, and it’s nice to think I may be able to go into a place and honestly say I won’t be back and feel fine with that. The one negative I see already is that I probably won’t remember most of these people’s names if I do get to see them again.

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