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Village Church, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Village Church (Andersonville location), Chicago, Illinois,
United Methodist Church,
though they certainly don't advertise that!
The church actually meets in a nursing home building. There
is a side door that leads almost directly to the sanctuary,
so I didn't know it was a nursing home immediately. But I
did wonder why there were security guards standing around.
They appear to minister predominantly to the young childless
crowd. Almost everyone there seemed between the ages of 20
and 40, although the woman next to me was probably in her
50s. I saw only a couple of children besides my daughter.
This congregation is a brand-new church plant. In fact, we
attended their seventh service.
Andersonville is one of Chicago's more interesting and lively
neighborhoods. Clark Street tends to feel like the center
of the area with its commercial district. But we were a couple
of blocks off Clark, so it was more residential, and not quite
as pretty. Still, the whole neighborhood has a wonderful atmosphere,
and I would love to live there.
Brittany Isaac, associate pastor, led the service. A gentleman
who identified himself as "Scott, Holy Terror" helped
with parts of it. Cody Schuler, church planting intern, presided
The date & time:
Sunday, November 27, 2011, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Very full. We were probably two minutes late, and would not
have found three seats together if a kind woman had not scooted
over so that my daughter could have her own seat. I would
guess 100 in attendance.
Did anyone welcome you
I was greeted by an extremely efficient and polite ushering
team, who made sure I found my way into the sanctuary and
then asked if I would like to make a name tag in whatever
color I liked.
Was your pew comfortable?
We sat in folding chairs, but they were padded, and I found
mine extremely comfortable.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Lively! We sang contemporary style worship songs with a praise
band until the service started.
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"Good morning, Urban Village Church! It's good to see you.
Is this thing working?" That was a reference to the mike.
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
We did not use anything besides a bulletin. All songs and
scripture were screened on an overhead projector.
What musical instruments
Keyboard, guitar, and drums.
Did anything distract
Before the passing of the peace, it was mentioned that although
children are welcome in worship, there is also a Sunday school
for any who want to participate. My daughter did, so we walked
through a bit of the nursing home to where the classes were.
Getting back, I almost got lost, because the nursing home
decor was all the same and foreign to me. When I found my
way back to the sanctuary, a testimony was in progress, half
over, so I was definitely distracted from that. Also by the
praise band, but I will complain about that a few questions
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
I'd call it seeker-friendly Christian contemporary; very pared
down order of worship, praise band, and easy to sing songs.
Also, anything that might not be universally accessible was
subtly explained, so that no one would feel left out.
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
7 It was a decent sermon, but it jumped around a bit
too much. Also, I don't think I ever quite got over hearing
OMG in a sermon title, and in a sermon. The actual title was
"OMG: Experiencing the Wonder and Weirdness of Christmas."
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
The sermon began with an overly long discussion of the way
popular culture looks forward to the end times. After thoughts
on why the world is so interested in predicting the end times
so many frustrating problems in our world the
pastor moved on to a metaphor that compared our souls to our
houses. Don't let your house be dirty when guests come, or
your soul dirty when Christ comes. Unfortunately, after a
very very brief Advent challenge, the sermon ended without
sufficient discussion of how to clean one's soul.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
I quite enjoyed the fact that even in this relatively pop
service, the pastor followed the lectionary, quoted Martin
Luther, and seemed in touch with Christian tradition. Even
more so, it was very refreshing to be in a very liberal church
that was not ashamed of the gospel.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
I'm not a fan of praise bands in the first place, but I do
understand that some people like them, and so I am willing
to put aside my personal tastes. However, when the guitar
started to strum very loudly and obstreperously before the
last hymn, I turned and asked my husband, jokingly, if I could
flee. Moments later when the song was announced, "Ode
to Joy," I happily took part, but the loud guitar did
not stop. I wanted to tell him to shush, but my husband suggested
that attacking the guitar or the player might not be greatly
appreciated on my first visit.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
At first I had trouble getting lost, because I unexpectedly
ran into a couple of friends. However, after I left, explaining
that I needed to go look lost, I quickly was greeting by the
children's education director, who filled me in on the children's
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
As a non-coffee drinker, I cannot speak to the quality of
the coffee, but there were store-bought bagels (good quality)
and cream cheese, which were excellent. There were also some
donuts, apparently left over from before service, and tiny
sandwiches, which my husband spoke well of. No vegetarian
sandwiches, though, which surprised me considering the crowd.
As my husband pointed out, maybe there will be some once the
church isn't so very new.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
7 The church isn't really my worship style, but the
people seemed great, their message is something I believe
in, and they are clearly all about serving Christ by serving
their fellow people.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
I am very very glad that we have such churches. The number
of people present made it clear that we have great need for
seeker-friendly contemporary styled churches that still believe
in the gospel.
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Singing "It's the end of the world as we know it"
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