Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sand Lake Baptist: A Refreshing Change, Mostly

[img_assist|nid=157155|title=Sand Lake Baptist Sign on Jewel Lake Rd|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=160]On May 15 I visited Sand Lake Baptist Church located just south of Raspberry on Jewel Lake Road. I had a good visit including a warm welcome by two individuals when entering. A lively song service was in progress led by an excellent pianist/worship leader, a four-person praise group, and good congregational participation.

The singing was mostly contemporary Christian music (CCM); I enjoyed the ambience. The song, as I walked in, was being joyfully led by Senior Pastor John Priestley, in a unique free-form method. The musical portion covered the singing of about five contemporary Christian (CCM) songs, covering about one-half of the service time. However, the music, as rendered, was quite pleasing to the ear.[img_assist|nid=157156|title=Quilt Presentation to Graduating Senior – Sand Lake Baptist|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=164]

This church has a tradition of giving quilts to graduating H.S. seniors, presenting them to five graduating seniors this morning. The beautiful quilts were made by members, and signed with well wishes by members. What a wonderful tradition and definitely a first for this Anchorage church visitor! As Pastor Ian Kenny presented each quilt to the matching senior, he noted that often after graduation young adults may start moving away from involvement with the church. It was the church’s hope these graduates would remember their upbringing and the church by the quilts. [img_assist|nid=157157|title=Quilt Detail No. 1|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=263]

Pastor Kenny gave an appropriate, and well-delivered message tied to the graduation theme. I would have called it baccalaureate for seniors.[img_assist|nid=157158|title=Quilt Detail No. 2|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=281]

At no point in the service, however, were guests noted, mentioned, or welcomed. Although I enjoyed the service and felt comfortable in this under 100 attendee church, no one spoke to me before, during, or after the service. And too, guests were not excepted from giving at offering time. There was no altar call, a refreshing change for a Baptist church. My experience with altar calls is they often are a manipulative tactic, unsanctioned by scripture. Nonetheless, I recommend this church for a first-time visit if looking for a new church home. It’s small, so you’ll stand out. Please let me know how your visit goes.

Follow-Up Note: 5/30/11
I called the church a week ago and have yet to receive an answer to a couple of questions I asked. Churches should quickly answer any message call. One week is unacceptable for any church to respond. Unless some unusual circumstance has occurred, I will remove my recommendation for visiting this church. Potential visitors often call churches with questions. If churches are not answering those calls, they do not care about visitor concerns.

ChangePoint’s App Exceeding Expectations!

ChangePoint recently released an app for the iPhone, iPad, iTouch, and Android. As they are the first Alaska church to release an app, I was very excited to share this news with Church Visit blog readers on my April 20, 2011 post (click here to view).

I contacted Adam Legg, ChangePoint’s Communications Director, to see how it’s going after three weeks. He was duly excited, sharing their free app had downloaded over 900 times, and had been launched over 2,900 times (people using it). Adam further noted each launch was over 30 minutes long, indicating significant sermon listening time, and/or Bible listening or reading time! This equates to usage of close to 90,000 minutes or 1,481 hours in the initial three weeks.

Adam is clearly joyful! “That is 1,481 hours that people have spent listening to, or reading truth, and that is exciting! These numbers are far beyond what I expected. I’m excited that people are finding this to be a useful tool to stay connected with ChangePoint!”

In a city where comparatively few churches have determined how to construct and maintain “effective church websites”, ChangePoint has already taken church effectiveness to the next level by successfully launching their app for this incredibly popular new generation of Smart devices.

Personally I’m looking for future updates to ChangePoint’s app. I’m sure they will continue to add features to assist with their mission.

Children on Mother’s Day

Children on Mother’s Day by Walter Brueggemann

We are children today of many mothers,
some of us grateful and glad,
some of us cynical and defeated,
all of us living lives that are pure gift
from you and for you.

As we give thanks for our mothers,
so we think of children whom you treasure
and invite close in.
For newborn babies arriving in these restless days,
for children loved and lost awhile–
Joshua, Charles, Michael, Sophie, and a world of others,
for children born feeble and troubled
and loved in their need,
for children infused with napalm and
shrapnel and hate and fire,
for children who know the sharp edge of Pharaoh and Herod,
and a thousand other uneasy men of force.

In the midst of this parade of innocence,
we submit all the treasured children of the world to you,
that they may prosper, and that we may become more fully
your daughters and sons,
children of your commandments,
recipients of your gifts,
bearers of your hope.

You have said, “Let the little children come.”
Here we are–yours…
that we may receive your nurture
and your discipline.

Excerpted from Prayers for a Privileged People
by Walter Brueggemann

Can Children Develop Hearing Loss at Church?

[img_assist|nid=156924|title=Too Precious|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=93|height=290]
Recently I attended a church service featuring a praise band. The music levels were extremely high, at least in the area I was sitting. I noticed a number of very young children down front dancing on the floor in front of the stage. My attention was drawn to several of the children who were holding fingers in their ears, obviously blocking the loudness of the music.

Sometimes I carry a decibel meter with me when I visit churches because the trend in many contemporary, praise band style music churches, is to have the music as loud as can be tolerated. I did not bring my meter that day which I now regret. In my estimation, the music at times exceeded 95 decibels, a level which can cause hearing damage and ultimately loss, especially in younger children.

In a recent article “How Loud Is Your Church” , sound engineer Leon Sievers provides operating parameters for church sound systems.

“I recommend operating your church sound system at no more than 80dB peak during worship and averaging 65-70dB during the service. Sound Pressure Levels, which exceed these parameters, will cause ear fatigue, loss of concentration and potential hearing damage.”

Hearing loss rates among the young are accelerating. This is well documented in technical literature. Audio people at churches are often volunteers who may be adjusting the sound to meet their tastes, not understanding is effect on those most vulnerable. The peak decibel number I hear church audio folks most frequently cite is 90-95 decibels. This is clearly too loud for children, and many others, such as the elderly. Possibly a few legal challenges might focus pastors and church boards on the seriousness of this issue.

Pastors concerned about a lack of concentration among parishioners, during their sermons, may need to look no further than their praise bands for the reason. A rising chorus of worshipers is documenting their lack of ability to concentrate after periods of loud music. The church I attended recently performed approximately 45 minutes of extremely loud music that day.