Church #50, White Couch Albany

Date: 2/9/14

Church name/type: White Couch Albany, a non-denominational church with origins stemming from a mixture of Southern Baptist and Assemblies of God groups

Pastor: Pastor Mike

Style of worship: A message about communion was bookended by music. I’m told this format is not usual and that it was light on music this time.

Overall Impression: neutral

I had heard this place was fresh and new and different, so I had some expectations going in; however I just didn’t get any sort of vibe from the place. It just felt kind of flat. Maybe it’s the new building, or the snowy lack of attendance. Or the fact that I came at the end of the year and found the doors closed. Yeah I tried to attend this church once before at the very end of the year. Unfortunately for me they had no service that day, and no notice on the website to explain this. They couldn’t even leave a note on the door? So maybe I was annoyed with them from the get-go. I’ll start again and try to examine what I did find at this church.

On arrival in my car I found several young adults in the parking lot with shovels. They motioned me inside with smiles. I had come at exactly 11am, but the service was not quite starting and I took a seat. The rest was rather straight-forward. We exchanged high-fives at greeting time rather than the standard handshake. We had communion together by filing up front. That was just a little weird because we were instructed to come up as we felt led…no one really went out of order however.

The main point of this service was the sermon. It was really a description of communion and what communion represents. To me it was sort of like hearing the Catholic liturgy with explanation breaks. Every Catholic knows the story of Jesus serving bread and wine and calling it body and blood. It’s imbedded in what the priest recites every. single. week. Even the part describing Jesus as the lamb of a new covenant in blood. And the bit about this new Lamb’s blood taking away the sin of the world. Heck, I can sing it in Latin even. But for the unfamiliar, I will assume this was an interesting sermon. I liked the fact that pastor made mention of the Last Supper as a Passover meal. That is what the bible calls it. Thematically Jesus’ death is seen as a parallel to what happened at the original Passover. In both cases a lamb was slain and the blood saves the children of God. As to the idea that Jesus was celebrating a Seder with his disciples- I have heard that’s not quite correct. It seems like the Seder used today was not yet solidified into it’s current form when Jesus was on earth. So whatever Jesus usually did for the anniversary of Passover, it would have been rudimentary at best compared to a Seder today.

Of course, there are some scholars who think the juxtaposition of the Last Supper with Passover was retconned by the writers of the gospels to make the point more fully about Jesus making a second covenant. I guess I’m ok with that. Sometimes I wonder if I let biblical scholarship chip away at the bible, what will be left? But then again, God made us to be able to think, and that’s important if one is actually interested in the truth. I think learning more about this stuff can actually make my faith stronger. Jesus could certainly have made a comparison to Passover without necessarily using the anniversary of that day. Plenty of things could be different about the specifics in the bible and I would still love the stories. I guess that’s the best thing I got from this week’s service. It made me reexamine what I love about the stories and realize all over again that changing beliefs will not wreck me or my faith. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if Jesus was having Passover as his last meal. It doesn’t even matter to me if Jesus died to save the world or just to save twelve men from execution. That’s powerful. He asked us to remember it and we do.

Negatives?: There was one odd bit. We were listening to the in-depth story of The Last Supper. It was probably around the part where Jesus’ death takes away our sins. Pastor explained as kind of a one-off that when we sin it makes Jesus sad. This was meant as a reason to not sin and it even seemed like the pastor was getting a little bit emotional as he spoke about it. I find it somewhat odd to hear a statement like this. The way Jesus feels about us should be the last reason not to sin. The first reason should be the other person we are hurting and the second reason should be the damage we are doing to ourselves. If Jesus is so kind and awesome and one-with-God, he can handle Himself to be alright even when we are sinning. I feel like this reason serves as a guilt inducement and very little else. So that was at least kinda strange.

3 Replies to “Church #50, White Couch Albany”

  1. I am a mainstream denomination regular church goer although I have visited White Couch on more than a handful of occasions as a visitor. I think you were there on an irregular night (communion/less music). I would hate to be church shopping and look at your post and make the decision to NOT even try White Couch. You only gave them one chance and only noticed that it was a different service type. You owe them another visit before you can make an informed decision about any church, especially White Couch. This church is there for seekers and un-churched as well as “seasoned” Christians. The idea is to teach people how to be closer to Jesus. It is meant to NOT be mainline, but to help people be comfortable and not feel “penned in” by the traditional…thus the high five instead of the traditional peace, and Communion once or twice a year with a lesson on it’s significance instead of their regular Bible-based teaching sermon.
    I feel that this is not the first church you have judged unfairly after just one visit. I have felt this before, although in the case of White Couch, it is clear.

    1. Thank you for your viewpoint. I acknowledge that my church project by nature gives a very limited view of each church. As part of my project plan I only visit each church once. If I repeat a church it is usually because I found something positive there that was unique in some way, however sometimes I do revisit on a whim. I disagree that I owe it to any church in particular to visit even once if I choose not to. I am not Angie’s List. Unfortunately I cannot include a disclaimer to this effect on each post. It simply isn’t doable. Hopefully your comment will encourage those put off by my review to look at it themselves and make their own informed decision.

  2. Just a note to say I like your blog and have been reading it. I don’t go to this church but I would think that the FIRST reason to not sin is to not sin against God. St Paul told us not to grieve the holy spirit. And in psalm 51, David said about his sin with Bathsheba that he had sinned only against God. So ultimately all sins are against God and our relationship with Him. When we sin we sin against God’s love, God’s laws, God’s creatures, God’s timing. All sin is primarily against the first commandment to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. (And the second is like to it, but not above or equal to it…to love our neighbor as our self. So I’m thinking the pastor was right.

Leave a Reply