Monday, June 23, 2008

SoCal adventure, Day 3

Today we had a busy day. We have visited three churches and taken in five services in a little over 24 hours! It has been great to see how various churches "do church" and hear how other churches experience similar positive and negative issues from a musical and technical standpoint as we do at Providence.

We started our morning back at Saddleback where I went to the gospel style "Praise" service and Kenton attended the high octane "Overdrive" service. In the Praise service, they covered a couple of the Israel Houghton songs. Here is a little snippet of the service:

One of my disappointments about being away from home this weekend is that I was going to miss Joel and Sonia's version of "When I Think About the Lord." Well, I was fortunate to hear it covered congregationally at this service. A great sound!

A couple of quick observations.
  • There were a total of four songs in the opening.
  • Buddy Owen's sermon included some worship time at the end so I'm betting they did that today as well (we didn't stay for the whole thing).
  • They had another B-3 in this venue.
  • It appeared that the sermon was the 4:30 service from Saturday was the one they used in the outside venues all day.
  • The "welcoming pastor" spent a good deal of time inviting the congregation to thank-by-applause the members of the band and the vocal team and the choir, some specifically by name. I don't know if that was the norm.
  • Saddleback does a good job of welcoming people coming onto their sprawling campus.
  • It was interesting that with the venues spread out across campus, when the music your venue was done, you could often hear and feel the pulsating music from another venue.
  • Across the campus the venues focused on a theme, but did not necessarily contain the same songs. Each venue leader appeared to be allowed, maybe even encouraged to plan a service that matched the overarching weekend theme in the language of its venue.
After our time at Saddleback for the 9:00 services, we took off for Mariner's Church to take in their 11:00 service. This seems like a nice church. The whole courtyard area is set up for kids. Not sure if this picture shows all the beach balls and toys out in the lawn area, but I wanted to run out there and play.

The music was led by a band, song leader playing acoustic guitar, electric, bass, drums, keyboard, violin, and two female singers. The song selection featured a couple of hymn reworkings for band (Great is Thy Faithfulness and one other well-known one that I've forgotten), along with You Are Holy (Prince of Peace), and Heart of Worship.

The presentation looked nice, the worship leader was a little elementary-school singing some of his instructions which felt weird to me for some reason, but seemed likable and enthusiastic. The pastor's name is Kenton, which Kenton seemed to think was cool.

This was the church's version of laying hands on people during a dedicatory prayer for their VBS teachers for the week.

They must do it often because people didn't need much instruction on what to do. I just thought it was interesting. There was an overflow area we discovered that was pretty full, multiple flat screens carrying the service. I don't know what to say about the 45 minutes we spent there. It seems like a nice church--I don't know what I was expecting, but from a musical standpoint, from an engaging standpoint, it was kind of underwhelming. Of course, I had just come from a high-energy gospel style service to a small-sound presentation, but still, I was hoping for a little more on the musical side.

After this service we ran up to Dodger Stadium where we sat and watched the Indians play the Dodgers. The bad news was it was 94 degrees. The good news is our seats were in the shade from the overhang of the section above us. The bad news is, the Indians lost the game. The good news is, they won the series. The final score was 4-3. Paul Byrd was rocky in the first inning and gave up all four runs before the first out was made. The team never recovered.

I think Casey grounded out on this at bat, but a run still scored.

After the game, we drove a couple miles up the road to the 6:00 service at Mosaic Church. This church was in downtown L.A. It meets in a nightclub known as the Mayan Theater.

Erwin McManus is the pastor. I'm glad we went. It was an interesting experience. The church at this location (they have others spread around town) is geared for the 20-something crowd. They began a series today called "Practical Wisdom" from the first seven verses of Proverbs 1.

Here's what the room looks like. I captured this before the service started.

This band was led by a guy singer playing electric guitar, a female singer who also played Sleigh Bells and Orchestra bells. The drummer played "shieldless," and there was a bass player as well as a rhodes/moog-mod player and an electric violin player.

I think the mix was the best one we heard all day. The guy and girl sounded great and there was a third girl that played the piano (solo) and sang at the end. Also very good.

The songs were not familiar to me. Some seemed original, only on one song did I get a sense of the congregation singing along like they really knew it.

From the moment the doors opened (about 15 minutes before 6:00), a gal was sitting on a little side stage, evidently oblivious to the room. She was creating a thing in photoshop or pagemaker that was projected from her laptop onto an over sized tee-shirt "screen." She finished with it about three quarters of the way through the service (in the middle of the sermon), got up and inconspicuously walked away. No one said anything about her, or about it, pointed it out, etc. Just kinda happened.

McManus was great. After teaching a little bit on Proverbs 1:7, he decided to dispense wisdom by taking specific "what should I do in this situation" questions from the "community" with the help of people on roving microphones. He handled it really well.

This has been a really long day. Kenton has been sawing logs over here since 10:00. We look forward to seeing the rest of the Chapel crew arriving tomorrow.