Popular culture

Sparks Christian Fellowship

The Sparks Christian Fellowship band rehearses.

The Sparks Christian Fellowship band rehearses.

Photo By David Robert

Sparks Christian Fellowship, 510 Greenbrae Drive, Sparks, 331-2303. Services are Sunday at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., but there are a lot of things that go on here all the time. Check out www.scf.org.

I’ve had several people mention that Sparks Christian Fellowship is “popular.” The idea that a church would be “popular” is kind of an odd concept for me. I associate the word more with high school, when “popular” described the people who most personified commercial and mental conformity.

Sparks Christian Fellowship is not that, but from what I saw, a lot of people do like it.

SCF, a non-denominational church, has grown into a large section of a strip mall on Greenbrae Drive in Sparks. Among other things, that means plenty of parking. The last time I was in the church, it was still mainly ensconced in an old movie theater. I don’t think the main sanctuary is still in the old theater, but the new sanctuary has retained the character of a proscenium-styled cinema with comfortable theater-style seating. At the front is a two-tiered stage.

Pastor Scott Parker took Hunter and I on a tour before 10 a.m. Sunday morning services. Picture the sanctuary ringed on two floors by ancillary things like classrooms, kitchens, childcare facilities, a smaller sanctuary and game room, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the building’s mazelike architecture.

I learned a lot I didn’t know about SCF. For example, the Agora Café offers a full-run breakfast in addition to the regular “coffee shop” stuff. The church feeds 50-70 needy families on Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The church stands on three pillars: learn, relate and serve. Learning is individually connecting with God; relating is connecting with other people; and service is outward-focusing to the community and the world for example, feeding the hungry.

Hunter and I had barely found our seats when the lights went down, and the eight-piece band began playing to hand-clapping and groovin’ to the music. The stage had a dramatic black backdrop, with a simple, rugged-wood cross above. Three large screens flashed lyrics above the cross.

The band was made up of an electric and acoustic guitar, keyboards, two female vocalists, violin, electric bass guitar and drums. The group was headed up by Pastor Darren Brown. The music was pretty awesome, kickin’ but not so rock ‘n’ roll that it would bother people older than me. I was particularly impressed with the vocals, and mostly with Brown. His voice reminded me a bit of Chris Daughtry, the bald American Idol guy from 2006. I suggested the music might have a hint of country twang (mainly because of the fiddle), but Brown says it changes every week.

After a good 35 minutes of joyful noise, Pastor Parker came out. He related the story of a friend whose hunting dog had developed a seven-pound tumor that couldn’t be detected without an X-ray. The only sign was the dog was a bit lethargic. He used this to illustrate how people can develop an undetectable spiritual lethargy. Luke 14:26 was his biblical leaping-off point: “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life.”

Since there’s no spiritual X-ray, Parker recommended four checkpoints to diagnose spiritual tumors: Check your passions (to see where your time’s going); check your checkbook (to see where your money’s going); check your legacy (what spiritual behavior have you passed to your children); and check your relationship (with your significant other). If God isn’t in first place in any of these areas, there might be a problem.

But are good music, lots of congregants, intense sermons and activity within the community the reason people call Sparks Christian Fellowship popular? Might be.





Want to introduce Brian to your place of worship? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.