Muldoon Assembly: Friendly, Programmed

I was told the Muldoon Community Assembly of God had an interesting congregation worth visiting. On August 24, I dropped in for a visit. Their campus offers plenty of parking although the church buildings seem to have expanded in an unruly way over the years.

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They’re Friendly
In contrast to many of my visits to other Anchorage area churches, I found this church to be decidedly friendly and welcoming. I was greeted 4 or 5 times before I made my way to a seat. I ended up in the “Live” service which seemed to be more of a “regular” church service. Pastor Kent Redfearn engaged me in conversation before the service explaining their many service options. Finding him to be helpful, explanatory and welcoming, I even asked him about his academic background. But more about Redfearn later.

Upstanding Music
The service started with the playing of music by a 4 person band: guitar, keyboard, drums, and bass. Many songs were unfamiliar to me but the good news was the words were projected on a screen. The bad news was they were extremely difficult to read as the LCD projector was dying a slow death, yellowing out portions of the screen, plus the slide backgrounds were animated and quite distracting to reading the song lyrics. I’m seeing this type of animation in many churches, but in each case, I find it more distracting than helpful. Some enterprising company must be selling these backgrounds to the churches, making a tidy sum. Another concern with the music was we were told to stand but left standing for well over 20 minutes of singing. Obviously the spotlight was on the band so it felt like we were standing in honor of the band. It is difficult for some of the elderly and folks with small children to stand for these lengthy periods. Congregants should not be left standing, without meaningful direction, for long periods like this. Personally I feel this is area this church could meaningfully address.

The auditorium felt like a performance set. For example, I counted 27 stage lights, more than in many much larger churches. Church consultants routinely promise to double congregation size. This done primarily by sound and lighting upgrades and amendments. Pastor Fay initially led out in front urging the congregation to sing, to pray, to pray as couples, and for congregation members to pray for you. To her credit she made it all the way back to my place toward the rear of the auditorium during the mandatory “meet n’ greet” session, which I felt disrupted the flow of their morning services. The visitor greeting and recognition was nice, putting visitors on the spot somewhat, but only to offer them a gift card for Starbucks or Coldstone.

Articulate Message-Well Presented
Kent, a casual dresser, has a easygoing and articulate speaking style. His message, Living Forever, based on Phillipians 1:1, was relevant and well-delivered. I particularly liked his verbal portrayal of Adam and Eve’s sin, and fall as the “ungoodness of aloneness”. His message was laced with many passages of scripture and appropriate illustrative stories. As Kent was finishing I knew an alter call was coming as the keyboardist slipped behind her keyboard and started playing softly, with the other musicians not far behind. Many, many churches use music as a soundtrack to make the alter call more effective, and yes, it is certainly effective. I believe in the biblical injunction to “be still and know that I am God.” I have a hard time believing Christ’s sermon on the mount was accompanied by harp, lyre, and tamborine played to a suggestive audience. Kent’s parting admonition was to “…get into the fabric. Relationships are made in the fabric of servanthood.”

There is much to recommend in this Muldoon neighborhood affiliate of the Assemblies of God. They offer flavors of worship for every taste. From jazz services, to internet cafe atmosphere, to multicultural ambiance, it’s all here for you. However, this Christian found the programming, internal and external, weighed too heavily on me to consider maintaining an ongoing connection.

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