This Easter marks roughly two years since I turned in my Pastor Adam card and went from church staff to church attendee. (I was officially done June 1st, but it was during Easter week that the offer to come to YS came, which completely changed everything.)
In so many ways I’ve re-learned what it means to be a member of a church. God has shown me hundreds of ways in which my assumptions and desires for people in the pews were flat out wrong.
But, more importantly, the last two years has solidified a deep love and respect for the church universal as well as the church I’m a part of– Harbor Mid-City.
Here are 5 things I love about my church:
- They model their bridge building strategy with their staff. When I look at the make-up of their staff– I giggle. A PCA church plant with staff from a huge spectrum of Protestantism. Liberals. Progressives. Conservatives. I jokingly remind them, “In most communities this group wouldn’t even get together to pray… and you guys are on staff together!” I love that they chose to unite around Christ and major in the majors. Let me tell you, this is rare.
- They meet at Hoover High School. I’m a huge fan of our location and all the challenges it brings along. I love that we pay to rent part of a high school. I love that we bring 200 adults to a high school campus they would rather ignore. I love that there is a constant tension in the space we use for kids is also a teachers space. I love that part of our being Good News to the community is showing up and worshipping at a place, Hoover, that is so common.
- The production value of the service is awesome. Seriously, one of the things I love about Harbor is just how rough the tech side of things are. You would think that I, Mr. Super Church Tech Dude, would be annoyed that every week the microphones are jacked up, the projector is crooked, and they lovingly rock PowerPoint when Media Shout, Easy Worship, or ProPresenter are so readily available. Nope. Every time something goes array in the service I just lean over to Kristen and go, “That’s awesome. I love it.” Because I know the flip side of those blemished moments is not a persons hours of hard work. I know that no one is going to get an ugly stare back at the booth. And I know it’s not going to be an hours discussion at staff meeting. Ultimately… it’s no big deal and it’s treated as such.
- They love kids and show it. Most churches get this right. But I have to say that there are two places where Harbor gets this right-er than anywhere else I’ve been. Here are two things I can point to which illustrate this thought. First, early in the worship service they invite all of the kids to come to the front to join the worship band. So about 20 kids come to the front and bang on percussion instruments and dance for two worship songs before heading to kids church. Some people might think this completely ruins those songs. But I love the lesson we are teaching… these kids are a part of the congregation and we need to allow them to participate in the worship. It’s a visual way to say “children are valuable to God.” Second, I love how they handle infant baptism. (This is a theological issue I have NO IDEA where I stand on.) So, they baptize the baby and the congregation affirms their responsibility. [All very normative.] But Stephen has started this little thing which I hope he continues. He leads the parents to the center of the auditorium and invites the congregation to quietly sing “Jesus Loves Me” as a lullaby to the baby. I doubt it leaves an imprint on the baby but it certainly leaves an effect on the parents and the congregation!
- They value all people. I wish this were the case in all congregations but sadly it is not. Two quick ways this plays out on Sunday. First, we are an ethnically mixed congregation. We have a Spanish-speaking pastor and an English speaking pastor. Each language group is given equal value. (Not time) The only thing we separate for is the message. (Because translating that would be exhausting!) But for the majority of the service we have both groups together and it makes for a fun cornucopia. Second, we work hard to put everyone on an equal playing field socio-economically. El Cajon Blvd, where the church meets, is really a dividing line between the have-nots to the south and the have-alots to the north. There is a conscious effort to blur those lines on Sunday morning. I don’t have any idea how they pull it off… but it’s something I love about my church.
Those are some things I love about my congregation. What are things you love about yours?