ABT – Is Bigger Better?

[img_assist|nid=124296|title=ABT’s bright attention-getting sign on Northern Lights announces many types of events and services.|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=178]No mistake about it… it was mega-church time when I visited the Anchorage Baptist Temple on April 27, 2008. Everything is BIG and reminded me of a movie set. Huge church auditorium, bright lights, TV camera’s, large screen monitors, set-like displays, lots of color and many people.

My welcome
Three people greeted me before I reached my seat, but it felt like I was being greeted as though it were a job without much passion. I was just one of thousands and had no connection. Part of this may be due to the huge crush of people attending the one 11 a.m. Sunday morning worship service.

Good music
The nine-piece band started playing five minutes before the start of the worship service. The music was polished and sounded great. The 65 voice choir is good, singing well and performing several songs. A youth singing group of 15-20 voices also shared their talents. Several soloists sang on the main stage before Dr. Jerry Prevo took the pulpit. As he started, Prevo welcomed a bus ministry group of 38 individuals on stage, which he introduced to the audience.

[img_assist|nid=124297|title=ABT’s large facility hard to miss on E. Northern Lights.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=238]Interesting sermon theme
The sermon, Speak Sweeter, was in keeping with a lengthy series stretching over April and May. The series was tied to the theme of Tim McGraw’s bestselling country song “Live Like You Were Dying”. Prevo’s remarks were very Baptist in that the death and dying theme was reinforced repeatedly. Example, “How many of you, if you died this week, would go to heaven because you have accepted Christ as your Lord and personal Savior? Where would you go if you haven’t?”

Dwelling on one’s demise-best approach?
I’m no stranger to Baptist churches but I’m turned off when I hear warning or fear-inciting phrases like this. I’m much more attracted to a church that attracts me through the love of God instead of pushing me to join through fear. Sometimes certain Baptist ministers leave the impression your assurances of salvation are never as complete at what they are offering at that moment, for which I strongly disagree.

The service ended with the traditional Baptist altar call to come up front to be prayed for, to pray, and/or to make your decision for Christ. The band started up again as folks came forward. As with most Baptist services, there was a baptism.

Is this a church for you?
If you seek a church to ultimately establish a sense of community, this might be the one. But it’s big, and to me impersonal, at least at my first visit. Except for the obligatory minute of “meet n’ greet” I had little contact with any members. Prevo is available throughout the week on ABT’s station with taped replays of his messages and their services. It may be a better first introduction than attending in person.

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