Monday, 7 January 2013

Hope! Church

Sunday worship, Queen Margaret University, Sunday 06 January 2013, 11.00am
Pastor: Glenn Rogers

Third church in, I was expecting something a bit different and Hope! Church (don’t forget the exclamation mark) didn’t disappoint. It’s part of the Assemblies of God ministry and presents a Hillsong-style worship format led by a four-piece band and two vocalists, so I suspected there would be a fair few swaying hands, and so there were. Some worshipers also punched the air and jumped up and down as they chanted a selection of eminently forgettable praise choruses.

Cynics could suggest that this kind of worship – repetitive lyrics, relentless drum beat, high volume, dimmed lights and overhead projection of mildly psychedelic graphics – is designed to induce a trance-like state in which it becomes easier to fancy oneself experiencing religious euphoria, an effect which can be further enhanced by giddiness and fainting brought on by holding one’s hands in the air for twenty minutes. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with getting people in the mood, and their enthusiasm was evident, but this isn’t my cup of tea.

I’m not saying anything other bloggers haven’t covered at greater length. I guess it’s a matter of taste, but to me this kind of music is thin fare indeed.

The welcome, on the other hand, was warm and friendly. I was immediately engaged in conversation by a number of church members eager to chat and find out about me, everyone seemed to know each other and there was a buzz about the place that you don’t feel at every church.

The sermon was on Joshua 1:1-9, focusing specifically on verse 9 and God’s instruction to Joshua to be strong and courageous at a time of transition – taking on Moses’s mantle of leadership and taking the Children of Israel into the Land where there would undoubtedly face hardship – and the oratorical style was more motivational speaker than pulpit preacher.

There seemed to me to be a few gaps in the theological logic of the argument, but since the teaching was “to be continued” next week I can’t assume the lost threads won’t get tied up in the end. And while I can’t argue with the statement that there is no more important decision anyone can make than about his/her relationship with God, it’s the God = Jesus bit that I’ve come to have a problem with, and of course that's the bit that's taken as read.

So what can I say about Hope! Church in conclusion? It’s full of genuine people, some of whom express their faith in ways that would make me uncomfortable. It attracts young people and families, unlike last Sunday’s church, which could have been mistaken for an eventide home, and it seems to be doing something right … but not for me. 

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