Great Land Christian Church – A Great Second Look

Last month, I revisited Great Land Christian Church on April 11 to see if they still offered the same type of service I so enjoyed as described in my previous visit 1 1/2 years ago blogged on ADN here. This church currently meets in the Korean SDA Church on 34th in Midtown. I look forward to revisits in churches where my initial visit was positive. Great Land Christian is no exception.

Website First
Taking a peek at their website, I noted it was pretty but not particularly user friendly. I do like their mainpage being only one screen not requiring scrolling to see further information. I didn’t like having to go further into their website to find worship times: Click CALENDAR, Click LAUNCH CALENDAR, oops, using Safari browser it wouldn’t open because I use a popup blocker which I was asked to disable. I clicked on SERMONS and same thing. Wouldn’t open. Same disable message. They did open in Google Chrome browser. It’s a technical thing their webmaster should handle. However, if one is looking for a worship time, I don’t think one should have to decide if CALENDAR is where it’s hidden (a WORSHIP TIMES button is more appropriate). The times should be shown on the initial screen. The room is there. That is what the majority of church website visitors are looking for.

Same Welcome
A couple of members greeted me with hellos walking in from my street parking spot. However, at the door I received what I felt was a tentative welcome. This church, as with others I visit, might receive benefit from training for greeters. Many greeters are unsure of what to do when new faces appear. Do you ask for a name, or not? Do you ask if they are a first-time visitor, or not? What if they’re a member and you treat them like a visitor? There are basic guidelines a greeter can follow that make these encounters joyful, instead of unsure events.

Pastor Ray Nadon spotted me before the service, coming over to where I was seated. I asked him to not point me out or tell folks I was there so I could continue to observe his congregation at worship objectively.

Again With the Wonderful Singing
The service commenced with lively singing, still acapella, lots of energy, and great Christian music. It was delivered in an upbeat fashion, with singers exchanging places with each other from the audience after almost every song. Different music leaders exchanged positions at the pulpit regularly. I’ve heard they are considering going to a praise band approach so I urge you go visit this church quickly if you want to hear real communal singing with appropriate congregational response. I hope they don’t go this way, as this is a real Anchorage original. Some songs were accentuated with clapping which really worked for me. Unlike in other churches where instruments drown out the singers, the words, and the parts they sing, you could actually hear the tenor, bass, soprano and alto parts being sung. They blended harmoniously and gloriously! I especially enjoyed “We Praise Thee O God”, “Thine Be the Glory” and the spiritual “Shut de Door”. What a contrast to the contemporary Christian pap served up in many local churches.

Young and Energetic
This is still a younger church. Although there are older members, it appears to be college age to thirty-somethings predominately. They are quite vocal. Amens and urgings to the pastor, “Come On”, and “Come On Ray” livened the service showing people were not sleeping.

The morning offering was preceded by a stewardship appeal with a discussion centered around the Biblical teachings of Malachi. It seemed as though there was support for this from the congregation. During the receiving of the offering there was singing with the song “Don’t You Wanna Go?”. This was also very unusual for churches.

Meet n’ Greet (Ugh!)
I dislike these fellowship times because visitors get marooned for what seems interminable times being ignored or tokenly welcomed. It’s a time that most members greet each other warmly and catch up on news events of the week passed. For me, as with many others, it’s not visitor friendly. This day, after a few minutes, a man took pity on me and engaged me in conversation. He asked some probing questions such as “Is this your first time at GLCC? Have you been here before?” Another man also came over and joined in our discussion. At best these are “feel good” times and serve little useful purpose. Passing of the Peace as many churches observe, seems to serve a more useful function.

The Message
Pastor Nadon’s style of preaching is direct, Bible-based, and easy to follow. He used Hebrews 13:1-6 as the basis for his remarks. He started with a challenge. “Have you had a better time this week recognizing Jesus?” I like this approach because it is a tie to previous discourses and helps to normalize the reason you are at worship. If you use a browser other than Safari, you can find his sermon here and select April 11’s sermon.

Communion: More Information This Time
The previous visit saw Communion served without any preliminary comment. This time, Pastor Nadon made remarks about it. He then prayed. There was a long pause after his prayer. Then it was served to the congregation at the pew. While it was being served, the singing group sang the beautiful Christian hymn “What Can Wash Away My Sin?”. It was a beautiful communion.

Baptismal Closing
The church service closed with a baptism. GLCC adheres to full immersion water baptism. A young man was baptized by one of GLCC’s elders to howls of approval with some folks standing to indicate their joy at his confession of faith. This was a touching and fitting end to the service. I like this church for it’s comittment to the Word, it’s warmth to each other, their preaching, and unusually lovely style of music. They are consistent and a joy to visit. It’s worth a visit anytime.

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