. . . check out Sojourn Community Church. My daughter worshiped at Sojourn during the two years she lived there and I always loved visiting. It had consistently accurate verse-by-verse preaching, contemporary style music with sound lyrics, and just an overall good balance. It was recommended to us by some missionaries who now live in the Ukraine, and we are very grateful to them.
(Just to be clear, this church has nothing to do with Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis‘ Sojourners organization.)
They took baptism very seriously, and would tell you about the people being baptized. Someone would read a ~1 page overview of how the person being baptized came to trust in Christ. The stories were so varied — tales of horrible abuse, drug / alcohol additions, etc. but also some people who grew up in Christian homes, went to church camp and such, but never truly committed to Jesus. I like how a full range of people felt welcomed there.
Another nice touch: For communion, they would offer two cups — one of wine and one of grape juice. I’ve never seen that before. I know people have preferences but it is definitely a “debate, don’t divide” issue for me. On second thought, it isn’t even a “debate” issue with me. Just approach communion with the right attitude and drink whatever you like.
They are welcoming to the “over-churched or the under-churched,” though a “churched” person like me could get a lot out of it as well.
They didn’t water down the Gospel a bit, weaving it in the messages every week. They did a 2 year sermon series through the Bible, and ended with a sermon on the lake of fire from Revelation — even though it was Christmas week!
They opened a Sojourn Community Church in the Heights area of Houston recently. I want to check it out sometime. It would be too far of a drive for us to worship at regularly, but it might be a good place for ex-prisoners I know who will settle in halfway houses in the downtown area.
I’d love to see this model expand across the country.