Thursday, February 26, 2009

Open Door Church: A Menlo Park Presbyterian Service

After last week's adventure, we decided to check out Open Door Church, which we were told was a contemporary Presb service. They have services at 9 and 10:30, and it was raining again so we went to the 10:30. It was completely packed, with well over a hundred people in attendance, possibly over two hundred. It was so full that people were standing in the back (where there was free coffee and bagels, by the way). The age range was all over the place, as were the nationalities represented in the crowd. It certainly had the makings of being a great service.

And then it started. I should mention that there was no bulletin, which was my major gripe. We were handed a bulletin-like pamphlet on our way in, but it included church news and contact information, and that's about it. There were also no Bibles. This isn't that big of a deal, since I don't mind bringing my own, but having no reference point in print (the fake-bulletin didn't even list the scripture) was annoying. The first thing was "welcome your neighbor" and this was the first time I've been to a church and nobody realized we were new. In fact, three other people we shook hands with were also first-timers, I guess we just all decided to sit in one area, LoL. There were two or three opening songs, led by a praise band. They were in an odd order (medium, slow, fast), and Jonathan pointed out that he much prefers an upbeat song first to get things going, and a slower, more relaxed song just before the more serious parts of the service begin. People kept entering the room (not a sanctuary per se, as this was more of a "fellowship hall" setting) throughout the worship music, but it calmed down for the offertory. There was a casually-dressed, middle age man kinda leading things, but really just making announcements and stuff.

They put on a DVD of the sermon, given by the pastor of the main church (again, this is a satellite branch of a Menlo Park church). The pastor for the most part, was quite good. The subject was superiority, and the scripture was about superiority (using the parable in Luke about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector). His history, analysis, and lesson were interesting to me, although he didn't equally address all parts of the scripture (it's only about five verses), and I really feel it could have helped drive his point home. However, I just couldn't connect with a pastor who isn't actually there. I'm not sure if he rotates around for "live" services or if there are always DVDs or streamed sermons at this church. CasualMan talked some more, but didn't tie-in the sermon or anything, other than leading a prayer about how he felt affected by it. There should have been a tie-in, simply because he had made it clear that this was the fourth and final part of a series on "Flow" (which we didn't really get, there was no further explanation). The closing songs were quite annoying, and the lead singer either forgot how the song went or decided to improvise, because it threw off the other band members. AND, people started leaving during the songs, which irritated me.

I wouldn't be opposed to driving out to Menlo Park to try the "real" service (it's about 15-25 min away, traffic-dependent), but I don't know my thoughts on such a "mega church" to begin with. Oh well, next week we'll try something else!

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