Church: Solid Rock Church
Pastor: Pastor Justin Metcalf
Time Spent: 10:30am – 12:15pm
Overall Impression: Mixed
Type: As I am finding is common, no denomination was claimed. The Pastor made mention to me of a Pentecostal tradition and their website specifies that they are a group that came from an overcrowded Pentecostal church in Rensselaer.
9/23/13 Update: I checked further into this denomination and it is part of UPCI- United Pentecostal Church International.
Format: I was distracted from the format by my other observations and didn’t write it down. From memory it went: Music, prayer, sermon, communion, closing
Thoughts: Wow, this church is going to be hard to describe. I was surprised so many times by things good and bad. Very first impression -no bulletin. Then three or four people saw that I was new and greeted me warmly but briefly enough so as not to be overwhelming. I was also offered a copy of the new testament and a visitor form. I used the new testament copy as service went, but gave it back afterwards as I already have several at home. The music was going and I was thinking about my project and what kind of people attended this church and how much they really believed what was being said; the kind of things I sometimes think about during these Sunday services. One of the greeters came up to me to take away the visitor form. Well I hadn’t filled it in yet. But he was very insistent. I thought “Maybe he wants that little clipboard it’s on?” so I gave it back. He took it, noticed I hadn’t written on it and said, “You didn’t fill it out.” Then followed an exchange in which he tried to convince me to finish writing on it, came back three minutes later to take it, looked at it again and realized I hadn’t included contact info, and tried to get that from me. I said, “I’m not comfortable giving that out.” He said, “We wouldn’t share it with anyone.” All this going on while the band and church is still singing praise music. Finally he took the paper as it was and went away. I wish I’d said something afterwards to the guy or the pastor. I got the vibe that he really didn’t have ANY idea how uncomfortable he was making me.
There were a lot of other bits that were noticeable which I will outline briefly.
1) The music sounded good. Combo was: guitar, bass, drum set, keyboard. The musicians all seemed talented and I like the blend of the four instruments.
2) Lots of Christianese. Maybe at some point in the future I will give Christianese a whole post to itself. Christianese is made up of words or phrases that sound normal, but mean something extra in the context of Christianity. Most used phrase today was “God will physically touch us”. That’s weirds right? It almost makes God sound dirty. Or is he a regular person that who could put his hand on our shoulder? In fact I’m pretty sure this one just means the opposite of what it says. God is not really a physical being, so we must be ‘touched’ by Him in some way emotionally or mentally.
3) This church does a charitable project new each month. This month was a Habitat for Humanity build. Next month is probably going to be a food pantry project.
4) Prayer time was not open to congregation requests, but it did require us to hold hands and it was very noisy. Lot’s of people exclaiming ‘yes Lord’ or ‘Amen’.
5) The sermon message was a bit simplistic. A lot of it was just use of single words or phrases. It went something like… “God is not ‘no’. God is ‘yes’. Say ‘yes and amen'” Then everyone said -yes and amen. Lots of repeating phrases after the pastor. I was almost reminded of Sunday #3. But there was a couple little gems there too. Pastor said that it is easy for us to go to a doctor who we hardly know and have faith he will make us well. Why is it harder to have faith in God who we do know? And he mentioned rhema and logos. Which I had to look up. Both are translated as ‘word’, but they have a slight difference in use. Rhema means ‘spoken word’. Logos has something of a broader definition. Sometimes it can mean ‘written word’. It is also used to mean language or even discourse. That makes logos feel like it represents not the actual sounds of a word, but the thought going on behind the word. And logos can mean specifically ‘word of God’.
6) Communion! I haven’t actually shared a communion since my project began. Not all churches do it, not all do it every Sunday, and not all allow casual visitors to partake. The pastor mentioned that any can come have communion, so this church is open to anyone having it. It was grape juice and cracker style. (I think the cracker was actually matzoh!) Everyone filed up front, took some and wandered back to their seat. Then we all ate and drank at the same time.
After service was done I waited around for the pastor to say hello. I introduced myself and my project. He gave me props for my courage (he didn’t say props) and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I was surprised because usually pastors either say “cool!” or offer things which they have thought of that might help. Being asked what I actually wanted made me feel like he didn’t just see me as some lost sheep that needed directing, but possibly a smart individual who is capable of finding stuff out herself. Since I assumed he’d be open to it, I asked for prayer. I got some prayer. I also got a book called (don’t laugh) Christianese. It was a gift. I’m going to have to read it for my next Sunday off.
Overall Feelings: Still mixed. They seem nice, enthusiastic, and oblivious to the couple of weird things that are gonna turn people off.