#17 – The Church at Creek’s End– Spring, TX
While listening to a book about Orange County, California’s Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, I began noticing all the different churches that have shed their denominational names for more generic monikers that conjure up images of community, hope and transformation. In fact, in visiting so many churches, it’s often hard for me to tell what category the church should fall under. However, our current culture has done this with so many things other than churches, right? Kentucky Fried Chicken quietly became the more palatable KFC when fried food transformed from crispy yum into nutritional evil, after sales began a slight downward trajectory.
This renaming, and dropping of denominational affiliation has occurred all over the country. Last week, as I left the Dr. David Jeremiah service, my sister and I debated whether he was Baptist or not, because his own church’s name — Shadow Mountain Community Church doesn’t give a hint of its denominational roots. However, little clues will often give it away. Dr. Jeremiah’s service, ended with the singing of the Doxology. BAPTIST! Can’t fool me on that one. I learned today that more and more churches are doing this and may only use “denominational tags” in their church name versus using the denomination as the name’s central focus.
Why this Church?
I had to be in Houston this weekend, so attending the service of a friend who pastors an interdenominational church in the Houston area seemed like the perfect thing to do. Besides, I hadn’t seen Bobby Martin for 15 years, nor had I seen him preach before. While there, I also learned that Bobby, who is a son of a former Baptist minister and raised for years in the Baptist faith, had dropped his association with the Baptist church when it became too political. Like Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, he may have felt the denominational alliance to be more devisive in the effort to reach the unchurched and less inclusive.
Running late due to construction work on I-45, I didn’t sweat our arrival. No, I didn’t find a First Time Visitors parking spot, but having seen some of the Facebook posts from this church, I knew they had a band and would likely be playing for a while at the start of the service.
Met at the front of the church by a number of friendly people, my business partner and I walked into the darkened worship area bathed in blue and purple light with the 9-member band on stage. Framed artwork hung behind the band and that immediately captivated my attention as I tried to name each artist. I saw Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Memory” with its depiction of melting timepieces and James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s painting “Whistler’s Mother.” And, well….those were all the paintings that I recognized. While I like art, I’m definitely not some art aficionado.
We stood for song and after song while the band played on stage. What is with all this standing? I’m usually out running before church, sometimes for many miles. The last thing I want to do is stand for 15 minutes, but that seems to be the way churches are doing contemporary services these days. Can you tell I like to sit? And, may I just say, “C’mon guys, be nice to old people like me and nix all this standing.”
Message Series – MASTERPIECE: Finding God in Priceless Works of Art
Then, out walks Pastor Bobby in jeans and shirttail out, just like I found the pastor at Crossbridge Church in San Antonio. Instead of walking to a pulpit, Bobby stood to the side of a tall temporary table that held an iPad. A lighted projected image of “Shipwreck of Minotaur” by Joseph Mallord William Turner stood as his backdrop. I know you think I knew the painting and who painted it, but alas, NO. But I did learn that during the service. See what you can learn by going to church?
Bobby started the service by sharing a story about a man who had more bad things happen to him than anyone could possibly have in 10 years. Started out that he had a flooded apartment and then he has a flat tire, cell phone dies, car gets stolen and on and on. This guy definitely had a bad day.
The key takeaway point from the message was “stay with the ship.” As Bobby shared, “It’s a whole lot easier to stay in the ship with Jesus versus being out of the ship without him.”
Bobby discussed Four Causes for Storms: Me, Others, Satan and God. Then, he talked about the Three Common Mistakes Made When We Face a Storm in Our Lives:
- We listen to bad advice
- We follow the crowd
- We rely on circumstances
Bobby shared that there is always a right response for the storm, saying, “What happens to you is not nearly as important as what happens inside of you.” Finally, he encouraged us all to evaluate our own responses and gave some tips on what NOT to do during a storm in our lives:
* Don’t drift – I loved his point that if we are coasting, we are definitely going downhill.
* Don’t discard – don’t throw everything off the boat that you may need to have later on.
* Don’t despair – God will always be there to guide the way and sometimes the storm is there for a reason.
Then, Bobby closed with a prayer and another minister came on stage to give the announcements and prepare for the offering. I must say, I never thought I’d see an offering container like that. Cowboy Churches have their hats, buckets and boots; evangelists have their deep white pails, but similarly to the First Church of Christ, Scientist in San Antonio, Bobby’s church has an “offering pouch.” It has wooden handles with a black velvet pouch attached to it. I’m glad I don’t have to question why. I know from my previous communication with Christian Scientist practitioners that this is so no one really knows how much you just dropped in the plate.
Post Event Commentary
After the service, I got to learn more about Bobby’s message series around the paintings. I asked where this idea had originated. Had the paintings been the inspiration, or had he first uncovered the topic area and then searched for paintings that would be good representations of that? I learned that it was a bit of both. I must say, this sermon series was one of the most creative and visually enjoyable that I’ve ever experienced. I applaud Bobby’s creative side and I’m so proud of his work to build this church, to be the rock of his family and to touch lives in the way he does. This church is not all about getting people to church on Sunday mornings; the Church at Creek’s End is focused on helping people in need throughout the surrounding community and making their church a true community center, seven days a week.
I like the way Bobby preaches. It’s biblically-based, but yet with a creative and intellectual leaning. And, no yelling, screaming, ranting or raving! That appeals to me. Yep…I could be a member of this church. Too bad the church is located hours away from San Antonio.
For my high school friends: If you ever find yourself near Houston on a Sunday. Pop in on Bobby and have a listen. I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Well, I’ve had two familiar services back-to-back; time to STRETCH. I’m thinking Muslim, Hindu or Jehovah’s Witness. Care to vote by adding your suggestions in the comments below?