Oberg comes alive
Faith Alive! Christian Center
Reno, NV 89502
You know you have something exciting going on when a pastor can pull his flock into church at 9 a.m. despite a sudden snowstorm that made Virginia Street the life-sized version of an air hockey game.
I believe this technically was my first “charismatic” church, but I didn’t see the religious fervor that stereotypes charismatic churches in the media. I did see a lot of sincere down-to-earth types singing and praying with gusto.
The cinderblock building is a little misleading. It looks pretty small from the outside, but it’s big and well-appointed inside. Upon entering, you walk into a coffee shop, Hebrews Café. I met four people right off the bat, but it wasn’t like I was swarmed; it was like I walked into a genuinely friendly room. Associate Pastor Joey Bock introduced himself and led me to the sanctuary.
I sat near the back and started taking notes. The sanctuary is essentially rectangular, with white walls to the rear and black walls above and behind the stage. The ceiling is rough with exposed ducting. The audio-visual booth is to the rear.
The stage is large and holds drums, keyboards, a guitar and bass. At center is a clear plastic lectern and potted plants. There are two chairs to the right, which would eventually be occupied by Pastor David Oberg and Bock. There was a large screen above, upon which would flash song lyrics and the verses from Oberg’s sermon. There were geometric panels on the rear wall, but there was no Christian iconography on the stage.
There was a dusty rose carpet on the floor, and about 170 tan padded chairs for the congregation.
The sound system blew me away, it’s a technically superior combination of the singers, players and electronics. The sound quality was nearly impeccable. I liked the way the young man playing guitar started things out: “Good morning! Praise God! Just making sure we’re all on the same page this morning! We like to do that sometimes.” And then the group rocked into “Lifesong.” And then “Our Love is Loud” and “I See the Lord” and “From the Inside Out.” I particularly enjoyed one song where the female voices were featured.
The band, like the congregation, was of mixed ethnicity and age. I’m pretty sure all the major groups were represented in these four walls.
Associate Pastor Joey handled the greetings (I must have met 10-12 more people), church’s announcements (including classes and a visit from Mike Keyes of Tucson Feb. 10-13) and opening prayers: “We gather together to hear from Heaven. … We’re going to leave this place different than we came in.”
Pastor Dave Oberg is a passionate speaker, and his sermon offered some views of Christianity I hadn’t heard, but, as I read the scripture on the overhead screen, it made a good deal of sense. He was primarily discussing the Christian relationship with the Jewish religion and ethnicity, quoting Genesis 12: 1-3 and Genesis 30: 25-30 and continuing with John 4:22, “You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews,” and even citing certain Acts of the Apostles.
“If we bless Israel, God will bless us. … Everything in the Bible is from the Jews … the whole Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by the Jews,” he said.
At any rate, the sermon was basically announcing the Faith Alive! Christian Center’s participation in A Night to Honor Israel, in November. It’s going to have 20-30 different churches involved, and while it’s not anti-Palestine (or anti-anything that I could tell) definitely had a political undertone.
“The Christians are going to stand with Israel in these end times,” Oberg said.
Faith Alive! is a heart-stirring hour of church—even when the slick streets keeps some people away. I’ll bet anyone who likes an upbeat Christian vibe would feel very comfortable.