After five visits and almost a year-and-a-half of trying, I finally experienced a ChangePoint worship service that, for the most part, worked for me. The band’s music was toned down, seemingly more reverent. Guest speaker Jim Capaldo gave a clear and extemporaneously delivered talk. Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell delivered a fitting Memorial Day tribute to our veterans. The lone greeter covering too many doors was a disappointment, as well as the lone bulletin hander at the door I entered. I still maintain ChangePoint is not visitor friendly. It seems to be more vested in having visitors come to their welcome center than in being genuinely friendly to everyone, clearly a member responsibility. Unfortunately, stores like Sears and Carrs are more outwardly friendly and helpful to their “guests” than most churches are to theirs.
I had visited ChangePoint on May 17 and found the music unusually loud. The next week, May 24, I returned with a sound level meter to see if I was just imagining things. Instead of leaving after measuring sound levels which were fairly normal, I became intrigued with the service and decided to stay.
Musical minister Lee Hudson, an awesome keyboardist, asked people to stand. He led the band in “America the Beautiful”. Lt. Governor Sean Parnell was invited to the stage. Giving a well-spoken tribute to our veterans in a Memorial Day weekend point of recognition, he asked members who had served our military to stand. An impressive number did and were richly applauded for their service.
The music, beautifully performed, continued in a reverent tone with “It is Well With My Soul”, “Amazing Grace”, and “My Jesus I Love Thee”. The music segment was not as lengthy as in previously attended services only lasting 25 minutes, an improvement.
Guest speaker Jim Capaldo of Interact Ministeries, started by reciting from memory the whole of the book of Titus. He then invited a new immigrant from Bulgaria to the stage to interview, translated for the most part by Capaldo, regarding the difficulties experienced by legal immigrants adjusting to a new life here. Noting there were over 100,000 legal immigrants in Alaska, Capaldo pointed out there was much Christians could do to help immigrants with transitioning, e.g. childcare, employment, social services, education, language assistance, etc. Capaldo told several impactual stories of his family’s eight year missionary stay in Eastern Siberia ending just six months ago. He also embellished these stories with an amazing display of Tuvan throat singing. He ended with saying, “We can love others because God first loved us.”
I would normally link this sermon here, but 2 1/2 weeks later, it is still not available on ChangePoint’s website. If the power represented by ChangePoint’s massive member numbers would support the vision laid out by Capaldo, much good could be done across the state. The 1:30 service had fewer attendees than normal, but I’m sure many, as did I, received a blessing by taking the time on a holiday weekend, to join in worship. They are also to be commended for addressing the traffic flow issues I raised in earlier blog posts. APD and their own parking staff do a great job.
A Parting Note
Megachurches like ChangePoint seem to be subject to the same kinds of issues. They tend to be impersonal, huge, expensive, often offering appealing but watered down messages safe and comfortable to accept. In the Barna book, “Jim & Casper Go to Church”, these church visitors noted only one occasion where someone actually spontaneously approached them to talk in a megachurch. Christian hospitality is not an option; it’s a biblical imperative. Christianity is not an anonymous religion.