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Church, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Worshipper: Church Hopper.
Church, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Independent. They are one of three churches comprising North
The church looks more like a corporate high-rise building than
a traditional church, so it fits right in with the other corporate
buildings in the area. A sleek cylindrical glass-filled building
of about four floors.
The church is a satellite (or as they would call it, a "strategic
partner") of North
Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, described
in the book Hipster
Christianity as having "the biggest concentration of
Christian hipsters in Atlanta." As is usual with megachurches,
they sponsor dozens of ministries that reach out to children,
youth, young adults, mature adults and the elderly of all circumstances
in life. These are all detailed on their website.
It's located in Atlanta's upscale neighborhood of Buckhead.
It's very close to the high-end Lenox Square Mall and across
the street from a hotel. Several other shops, restaurants and
hotels are found in the area.
A man who I think was named Doug led the service. The pastor
was the Revd Charles Andrew Stanley ("Andy"). Andy's
father is the Revd Charles F. Stanley, senior pastor of Atlanta's
First Baptist Church and founder of In
Touch Ministries. The elder Dr Stanley's scholarly Bible-based
preaching can be heard every Sunday on cable television stations
throughout the United States.
The date & time:
January 2, 2011, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Almost full. The auditorium had an upstairs balcony and looked like it held about 3,000 or 4,000 people total.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A man greeted me and handed me a brochure as I entered. I thought
it was the order of service but it was more of an overview of
the church. I had a little time to scout the information desk.
There, a lady asked me if it was my first time and handed me
a package with a CD and some stylish cards giving more information
on the church, a parking map, and a statement of beliefs.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, but it wasn't a pew. I had a comfortable chair. I appreciated
the extra legroom between rows, as I am tall.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Services are held on the third floor, so we had to go up an
escalator. On the way, we passed rooms where Sunday school was
in progress. Arriving at the worship space, I found a seat on
my own, but I did see some ushers later who were finding seats
for others. Most people came on time. Ten minutes before church
started, they showed a video giving highlights of upcoming activities
plus some amusing skits about church life with cool graphics.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"Hi, everyone. Happy New Year."
What books did the congregation use during the
No books. Some people brought Bibles but they did not seem necessary.
The verse was projected on a video screen, as were the song
What musical instruments were played?
A full rock band: a keyboard player, two guitarists, drummer,
lead vocalist, and a backup singer. And they were loud!
Did anything distract you?
This is a very tech-savvy church. The stage lights changed from
cerise to blue to green as the songs went on. I found myself
mesmerized by the lights more than the music.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Unlike most churches that try to pull off the rock band thing,
this one did a very professional job. Band was tight, and I
have to say they looked the part of a trendy rock band. With
the lights turned down low and the band so loud, I could have
been at a real rock concert. The downside is that I did not
feel as if I was a worshipper but more of a spectator. They
sang two songs I did not know, that could have been hits from
Christian radio. I glanced around and saw that most people were
singing along, so clearly they were not affected as I was. A
few people were lifting up hands in worship.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 This was the first church I have ever been to where
the preacher appeared via hologram. He was preaching live at
North Point and they "beamed" him (with his stool and all) onto
the stage of Buckhead Church. I found it a little strange for
about a minute, but then I forgot about it. It seemed as if
he were really there.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
Andy Stanley preached from Galatians 6:9 ("Let us not become
weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.") Statistics were flashed on the video
screen such as 16.7 million people in America struggle with
hunger. When people see this kind of thing, they think, "If
I can't help everyone, then I will help no one." As Christians,
we do not have this luxury. We need to think, "Do for one what
you wish you could do for everyone." He challenged everyone
this year to look for that struggling single mother or office
coworker who is the one God is nudging you to get involved with.
What if everyone decided to get involved in one other person's
life? That could change the world!
Which part of the service was like being in
Andy's message. He is a gifted speaker: funny, smart, relevant
and able to take a well-used Bible passage and breathe some
new thoughts into it. He told a story about a 20-year involvement
with a drug addict and street person named Jane whom he was
able to help after many ups and downs. Jane went on to start
a ministry for abused women.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
While not strictly part of the service, I was very annoyed by
how long it took to get out of the parking garage maybe
15 minutes of waiting in line. I found my good Christian vibe
being replaced by something close to irritation. It would have
been a good chance to practice patience if I had remembered
at the time. If I ever came back, I would try to find some other
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
People filed out and went on with their day. Again there was
a big crush getting down the escalator. No one talked to me.
How would you describe the after-service
No announcement of any coffee was made, so I assume this is
not a feature of the church.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 I could listen to Andy Stanley all day long. I am not
sure if I would like to listen to that band, though.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. The church seems to cater primarily to professional singles
and families in their 20s and 30s. This is a hard demographic
for the church to reach and I was heartened to see so many "trendies"
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
"Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone."
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