Thursday, December 16, 2004

Visiting A Church While Away From Home

When Barbara and I got married we married on a Saturday. Of course the next day was Sunday and so we visited a church though we were on the road. The pastor preached a sermon on going to church while on vacation. I thought, "Man, what perfect timing." Do we really expect all our congregation to visit other congregations while they are on vacation? Barb and I have had both positive and negative experiences visiting a church while on vacation or traveling for work. Once we visited a Presbyterian church while in southern Viginia where they spent most of the worship service time on a business report of some sort. I thought, "Wow, lousy timing on my part". If you are traveling with family or co-workers who don’t share your persuasion, it makes it quadruple the trouble to find and go to church. Then there is the issue of taking kids into a new environment. I’m comfortable going somewhere that is not exactly what I believe, but then are the kids going to have a positive experience? Exactly how do you pick a church while traveling?

Do you select one based on your denomination? You probably will be comfortable theologically and quite possibly regarding worship style but not very adventure some.

Do you visit a large well-known church that is nationally or historically known? You might get to experience something new but you might not really be there enough to connect with what is going on there. I have visited nationally known churches both lead-bleeding edge and historic.

Do you visit a church based on how good their yellow page ad is? Well, this is exactly what I did this past week in Hawaii. I went to the church in Honolulu that advertised itself as “Reformed”, Honolulu Bible Church. They don’t have a website but they do have a great church. So I am writing a review on the worship experience.

Honolulu Bible Church Review -
808-737-0204
1844 PALOLO AVENUE, HONOLULU HI 96816


Order of Worship


The church is a modest size congregation but very much a live in its worship. One unusual aspect of their order of worship was that they did not have any special music. They did instrumentals for the prelude and offertory, but it was just one of the hymns that was sang by the congregation. When the men were finished taking an offering, the instrumentalists were done playing. This sort of sped up the service and kept it moving. They read a couple of the questions and answers from the Heidelberg Catechism. They also sang Psalms. They used the Trinity Hymnal and another book of metrical Psalms. The tunes used were from the Trinity Hymnal and so the tunes were familiar. The order of worship was efficient but did not lack any spiritual depth.

Music

They music style was eclectic. They had a bass guitar and a steel guitar that gave it an modern beat, but violin, piano and organ gave a classical-traditional feel. While the pastor led the music as we sang hymns together, a group of about seven women made up the vocalists. While we sang only hymns and metrical psalms, the music worked. I’m not sure everyone could pull it off like they did. The music was distinctive, interesting and encouraging.

Preaching

The preaching was a sermon on Acts 2. The sermon was basically on tongues and how the modern tongues phenomenon is not actual languages as it was in the book of Acts. The preaching was gracious towards those to whom the pastor would disagree and he ensured that the congregation understood that they should NOT be contentious with their brethren who are in charismatic churches. His sermon was clear and used the scripture well. I believe he connected well with his audience. Solid preaching, I enjoyed it.

Community

The church was a diverse group situated in a suburban neighborhood. I believe some were native Hawaiian. There were people from various Asian backgrounds. Others seemed to be military stationed in Hawaii, and some from the international community working in Hawaii. We had a fifteen year old girl greeted us after the service and ensure we were welcome. One Australian grad student spent time sharing a little of his time with us and invited us to visit the church associated coffee house and bookstore, Covenant Bookstore and Coffee House. In intend to blog about that tomorrow. The church has some other outreach activities; they sponsor R.C. Sproul on the AM 750 radio and they had an Art Club. I'm imagining that the art club is a Francis Schafferish type engagement ministry. The church has a plurality of pastors. I’m not sure if this is a doctrinal issue or an issue of just practicality. But the pastors were friendly too. All in all, it is a friendly church.

I highly recommend visiting Honolulu Bible Church if you are in Hawaii.

I hid the comments because I really don't want negative comments about any congregation stirring up strife. Check out my most called "Traffic Up: Issue Driven"