My photo
“It's good to be just plain happy, it's a little better to know that you're happy; but to understand that you're happy and to know why and how and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss.” Henry Miller

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gateway Church

I attended Gateway Church in Southlake this weekend with Amanda and her friend, Teri. This church appears to be related to the Trinity Fellowship church in Amarillo.  The website describes Gateway as a multi-campus, evangelistic, Spirit-empowered church. The worship on October 10 started with contemporary worship songs, and was lead by a band and what appeared to be praise team sitting among the audience with microphones.  Songs were alternately lead by a female and a male song leader.  I liked the band because it was contemporary without being so loud that the worshipers' voices could not be heard.

The audience participated while singing with raising of hands, clapping and standing throughout the period of singing.  Communion was not offered this week.  There was an alter call for prayers at the end of the service, with many people walking forward to accept the prayers of altar ministry volunteers.

Pastor Robert Morris, who was the founding pastor, was present by video and appeared on several monitors with a lesson taken from Judges 6 about Gideon who was visited by The Angel of the Lord. This passage tells about the time that Gideon prepared  Him a meal that The Angel devoured by fire from His staff.  I learned that when the Old Testament refers to The Angel of the Lord, many believe that this refers to the pre-incarnate Jesus making His Presence known to the people.  The tone of the message was hopeful and encouraging.  Pastor Morris advised the congregation to listen to what the Lord was saying to each individual while offering guideline to assess messages that seem to be from God.  He said that urgings from God should line up with what the Bible has to say. Secondly,  mentors with Godly counsel concur with the message and, finally,  the the message should give peace to the seeker.  In this way, the believer may test the message to discern that the voice is from God, just as Old Testament seekers asked to "test the fleece."

I personally found this worship service to be encouraging, and to ring true with my own studies of the Bible.  I would have liked to experience communion with this body of believers.  I did like that this body of Christ accepted direction from a group of elders, though it was unclear to me what was meant by an Apostolic Elder vs. Elder.  They announce themselves to be practitioners of Water Baptism, but the distinction or definition of this was not explained during this particular service.  I saw a nice use of multimedia making the church seem in touch with a younger and more contemporary audience.  The church leadership appears to be mostly male, but did allow for participation by a woman worship leader.  While not completely multicultural in appearance, those in attendance were racially mixed, and the message appeared to be very inclusive of divorced and single-parent members.  Teri, our host, told us that many of the worshipers were Messianic Jews.

The reason Pastor Morris gave his message by video was that this church has several satellite locations, with several different worship times, so Dr. Morris is unable to be everywhere at once.  His presentation was very effective despite not being physically present at this service.  The sanctuary was crowded, and it would be advised to arrive early to get a seat.  The seats were comfortable and environment was friendly and  welcoming, with greeters helping us to find a seat.  There was a clear method for registering children for security and there seemed to be organized and plentiful children's classes and nursery facilities.  Parking was easy to access.  All in all, in my personal experience, Gateway Church had much to recommend it. 
NOTE:  This essay is the first of my attempts to describe the different churches that I may have the opportunity to visit.  This is merely one person's impression of a given worship experience and I make no claim to be an expert on religion or to judge the religious or spiritual convictions of others.

No comments: