Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Topeka Church Experiences

The past two Sunday's we explored churches in the Topeka area. Below is a summery of our experience and findings. This next Sunday, we'll venture to Kansas City to check out a church.

Name Church 1
Church 2
Church 3
Worship Gathering Attended 4/15/07 @ 9:15am 4/15/07 @ 11am 4/22/07 @ 10am
Type Evangelical Evangelical Charismatic Evangelical
Parking & Getting In Gravel parking lot, easy to find where to go since there was only one building on campus, parking was getting kinda full Paved and gravel lot, they were in the middle of constructing a new worship place on-campus so we things were a little confusing as to where to park and walk-in, we only knew where to go because another guy parked right next to us and walked in ahead of us, parking was extremely full and we had to walk a long way, no signage Parking lot was nicely paved, even though there were several buildings on campus it was easy to know where to go since it was the most impression structure with the "religious" looking stuff sticking out of the roof (a world globe penetrated by a huge spire), they had visitor parking row but we skipped it because no one else parked there, we didn't want to be known at this point
Staff who helped us once we got in A staff member greeted us at the door and interacted with us all the way to the children's rooms, he asked us a little about us in a non-threatening and comfortable way, we felt fairly comfortable leaving our kids with the staff, we were given a beeper No one offered to help, but we walked right in, so I can't fault them on this, but the sleeping veteran in the chair at the door as we entered was an interesting first impression, we didn't leave out kids in childcare (and we should have, but we already subjected them to the torture the first time this morning) Staff initially greeted us and asked if we needed assistance (because we looked like we did), the greeter who took us to the class simply walked ahead of us for 1.5 minutes without turning around or interacting with us, at one point my wife dropped something and had to go back to get it but the greeter didn't even realize this, we had to hurry to catch up, felt uncomfortable, had to fill out information at the door where I dropped off kids which took 3 minutes to fill out (long time when our kid knows what's coming and they are freaking out), we were given a number that would come up on the video screen if our kids got out of hand, but I've always wondered what if someone takes my number (and my kids?)
Dress Casual, jeans OK Casual to more formal, jeans OK Fairly formal (mostly suits/ties, felt uncomfortable wearing jeans
Facility Met in a multi-use room (sports and worship) Met in a multi-use room (sports and worship) Met in a fairly new 1,600 seat auditorium
Age Demographic Younger and middle-aged families Mostly younger families Broad range

Music Style Non-top CCLI songs, one traditional hymn/song done in a contemporary style, very fine vocal leaders, decent audio mix Non-top CCLI songs, very fine electric guitarist, vocalists were average, audio mix was average and slightly less than average at times R&B Gospel intermixed with one top CCLI song, very fine vocalists especially Gospel choir, good audio mix overall
Worshippers Interaction Slightly interactive, some hands raised, average participation Slightly interactive, some hands raised, good participation Interactive with hands raised, extreme participation and non-participation
Speaking/Preaching Seemed rushed (probably due to baptisms), I'd love to sit down for a drink with the guy but the public speaking part was OK Good communicator, however didn't seem as approchable over a cup of coffee (but remember this is a first impression) Too shallow for me, could have summerized what he said in 5- minutes, but he seemed down to earth
Highlight Baptisms included great real/authentic and un-scripted stories of how people placed their trust in God alone Electric guitarist was excellent, pastor seemed like a good communicator Video announcements done by the church staff, it introduced the staff and got the information out in a timely and un-boring fashion, they were very well done, most likely due to the high-end cameras and
Oddly Enough Baptism was done in a horse trough, but once I heard the first personal story I didn't care, it was awesome, announcements were extra long however You walked into the worship area on the second level looking down into the worship area which was very different than other places but I kind of liked it, the sleeping veteran at the door was how I identified this church (he's the first guy I saw) One dear woman raised her hand to rededicate her life to God at the end when the pastor asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes with "no one looking around" (the elders were peeking, and so was I), at the end of this the pastor CALLED THE POOR WOMAN UP to the front to pray with him in front of everyone, as she came the pastor asked everyone to stand, he proceeded to ask her her name (yikes!) and why she came forward (double yikes!!) with his headset mic still on (yikes, yikes, yikes!!!), oh yeah - they use time in the worship gathering to greet each other a total of three times (after I meet the guy on my left once, I found it wierd the 2nd and 3rd time), then at the end I was promted by the pastor to ask the folks surrounding me (AKA guy on my left) if he needed to go down front to recommit his life to God
Follow-Up Letter from the pastor came on Tuesday We didn't fill anything out, so they couldn't contact us if they wanted to None yet, but I did leave an address with the childcare ministry so we'll see what happens
Nicely done Real authentic stories used, loved the church logo and common identifiable look Good communicator from the front, unique worship space in a positve light Video announcements by staff, guest information nicely printed and clear

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