Talk to the hand
Fellowship Community Church
Someday I’m going to have to figure out how to make a database of all the religious groups I’ve visited. It seems as though after all these years, I should be able to look at a website and have some idea of what I’m going to see when I attend a service. I can do it with some Christian sects. For example, if it’s a Catholic church—probably the most standardized service—I know what the service is going to be like, and the variations come with the music and the personality of the congregation and leadership.
As things stand, though, church reviewing is a box of chocolates. And I like it like that. Fellowship Community Church in Lemmon Valley looked like a non-denominational, evangelical Christian church online, but the 11 a.m. service felt like a Baptist service, and there appeared to be a baptistery on the chancel. As a matter of fact, a subsequent call revealed the church is Southern Baptist.
I arrived a bit early, about 10:45 a.m., and the earlier service was still going. I was greeted by the door and offered a cup of hot coffee. As people came out, several introduced themselves, making me feel welcome.
The sanctuary is large, square, with padded blue chairs. The low chancel raised the musicians to just above eye level when the congregation stood to sing along. Generally, the room and chancel were simple, but there were modern multimedia devices scattered throughout, with speakers and two large screens on which flashed hymn lyrics, take-home points and Bible verses from the service. The chancel held a lectern, table and places for two keyboards, two guitars, a drum set and a microphone, and there was a simple cross draped in purple cloth over the baptistery.
The music selection contained a mix of modern and old-timey classics, like “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace,” and the musicians, generally young, were competent. The 30-person congregation seemed comfortable with one another. Many families wearing blue jeans, and my guess is they lived in the nearby community.
Senior Pastor Frank Bushey has been discussing the topic “Confessions, Creeds and Catechisms,” and I got to see the third part of the series with the final to follow next week. As I understand the series, Pastor Bushey is lecturing on the very roots of his group’s faith, primarily the 1643 Westminister Confession of Faith and 1647 Westminister Catechisms.
A catechism is basically a summary of religious doctrine, generally in the form of questions and answers. For his sermon Sunday, Pastor Bushey used the question “What is the chief end of man?” and answer “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever” as the leaping off point.
The pastor had an intellectual and sensible style of speaking. He made regular references to his family, threw in some historical fact and told the occasional joke. I’d guess he spoke for 30 to 40 minutes, but due to his preparation and pacing, I never got bored. The sermon focused on a technique the pastor said would change members’ lives, if they’d try it for a week. The idea was to write a thought on each finger of the hand, with the words and their meanings to be held at the top of the mind for a week.
On the fingers were five ways to give glory to God: thumb, “be content;” pointer finger, “praise;” middle finger, “confession of sin;” ring finger, “to make Him known;” and pinkie finger, “bear fruit.”
Pastor Bushey’s thought was that if people held the glorification of God in their minds, they’d rethink their priorities in life, which would help them and others come to know God.
“If we live a life that gives glory to God, we will look different than the world,” he said. “Don’t worry about the houses [foreclosures]. Put aside the false idols and look to God.”