Speaking of churches…

This weekend I attended one of the coolest churches ever. Ever.

First of all, the back-story.

Rebekah comes from a family that puts a lot of emphasis on family traditions. Basically this translates into “every holiday we are getting together with someone to eat a meal.” This is definitely a good thing and something that Rebekah and I fully intend to carry on in our family. Easter meals generally happen on Sunday afternoon after the entire family has gone to church together, however this year the family meal was on Saturday night because Rebekah’s brother just joined the staff of a church (and apparently Easter Sunday is kind of a big deal so they wanted him there). Since he was in Louisville and the rest of the family had no place better to go, we drove up to his church on Sunday morning.

And now for the good stuff.

Sojourn is a community of people in Louisville that gather together for Sunday worship and for weekly community groups. I know this sounds cliche because a church is a church and every church these days tries to call itself a “community of people” when really it’s just a building full on Sundays and empty the rest of the week. However, I really feel that Sojourn’s mentality is different. While I would still say that no church is perfect since people aren’t perfect and we are the ones in charge, this church has a lot of great things going on.

The people of Sojourn hold creativity and the arts very highly and they are a highly creative bunch. In fact, the old school building that they meet in doubles as an art gallery and music venue. They have people in the community that create beautiful pieces of art for use within the church and for special occasions.

A lot of the music that they use for their worship gatherings is original music which definitely helps them define their own collective voice. The general feel of the music at the service I attended was a modern, electric-guitar driven, bluegrass singing. The emphasis was not on playing a great show for the audience like it is at a lot of churches these days, it was very much on getting the audience involved in participating in every aspect of what was happening on stage. They definitely tried to unify the crowd instead of separating the audience and the stage. Their worship band even regularly records and releases CDs of their original music.

The leadership of the church encourages members to live in the community around their building so that they are all active members of their neighborhood (which is by no means the rich side of town). The teaching was simple but true and I never felt like the speaker was trying to (1) merely evoke an emotional response from the audience or (2) water his message down so far that everybody would leave feeling happy. These two traits are probably the most common issues that I have with Easter sermons (generally speaking). So it was a breath of fresh air to hear something different.

It is rare that I attend a church that makes me want to move to their city just to be a part, and that is pretty much what happened this past Sunday. If you are in the Louisville area over a Sunday (morning or evening) I would encourage you to check out Sojourn. Hopefully you will find it as refreshing as I did.

What qualities do you like/dislike in the American church? (Please, keep it constructive.)