Yesterday, our family went to Grace Community Church in Clarksville. I’m still processing the entire experience, but I would like to share it nonetheless.
Like all of our other visits, we decided to visit Grace (or gcomchurch) because of someone else’s recommendation. But unlike our other visits, we went in by ourselves not really knowing what to expect.
Grace is a rather large church (around 1500-2000?) that meets in 3 separate services at a local high school. Already, this is unlike any church I have ever attended. When we arrived, I immediately noticed that there were a couple of guys on a golf cart in the parking lot. I assume they were helping with parking. It reminded me of the King of the Hill episode when Hank and Peggy got mad at someone for taking their seats at church and decided to attend the mega church. When they (the Hills) arrived at the mega church, there were guys driving around on golf carts. That is where the similarities to the show stopped (thank goodness).
We were warmly greeted at the guest services table when we arrived. Our kids were given name tags and a hostess took us to where we needed to be. Again, remember that I have never been to a church this big. It’s not really my thing. We were greeted by a man that I thought was probably a family pastor of some sort. He was nice, though, and I believed him to be genuine. Those of you that know me well know that I am extremely cautious about believing what people say, especially when I think that maybe they want me to do something–like go to their church. That is certainly a fault of mine. However, I believed this man named Ron to be real.
We entered the high school theater which was modestly decorated with the current sermon theme. I was originally afraid of a bigger church putting on a show, but the setting did not lead me to believe we were there for a show. Before service started, Ron saw me again and struck up a conversation. As I believed from our previous encounter that he was real, I shared with him that I had recently resigned. He let me know that he had been there before. When he asked me what was next, I told him what I have told everyone else: “I don’t really know.” He again let me know that he had been there before. Ron let me know that part of his ministry at Grace was to help other ministers and that he would be glad to help me however he could.
The service began with a worship song, a couple of quick announcements, and then a couple more songs. My fear of attending a show was unfounded. It was good. I was ready for the message at this point. To my surprise, it was Ron who walked on stage and began the message. Another of my fears of big churches is that the pastor is busy tickling peoples’ ears. This fear was also unfounded. The message was expository in nature and stayed true to the context of the history and the passage. There was no apology for the Truth, which I appreciate.
That afternoon, Ron and the director of family ministries both sent me a message on Twitter. Three others from the church also began following me.
As Kim and I began this journey to find a church, we settled in our hearts some things that were musts for our new church: true to God’s word, emphasis on small groups, and an attitude of service in the local community. We know that other churches are doing these things; some of the churches we visited are doing these things. But these are actually the three things that Grace believes will accomplish their vision of “leading people to become growing followers of Jesus.”
Please understand: I am only writing this to let others know about our journey and how God is working in and through us. Nothing here is written to persuade or discourage anyone from attending any church. This is our story of faith. And for right now, this may be where we need to be.