Monday, June 1, 2009

Featured Flikr Photos - Watermark Church

Last week I wrote about my church experience in Chicago. Given that my Chicago church was a small church plant based in the artsy hippie city culture of liberal Chicago, it is a rather stark contrast to my church here in Dallas.

I mean, having a little church band of friends standing on an old wooden stage with candles is rather different than this concert-like band with all the special lighting.


There's huge screens, concert seating, and approximately 5,000 people that attend this church on any given Sunday. These are not things I'm particularly proud of. I value things like community, family, intimacy, and accessibility in a church. Mega-churches don't exemplify those values to me. Isaac and I looked intentionally for a small church here in Dallas, but found that since this place is in the middle of the Bible belt, if a church is good it grows exponentially.

Actually, we visited this church on their very first day in this new building, and one of the things that really struck us was Pastor Todd's attitude towards their size and the new space. It was great.

Besides, there are SOME similarities to our church in Chicago! The pastor still wears blue jeans, the music is still contemporary, and the congregation tends to be younger.


How do we survive in a big church? Three reasons.

1. Community. When we first visited Watermark it became obvious that it would actually be easier for us to get to know people intimately at this huge church than at most of the other churches we visited. If you want to be a member, the church requires you to be involved in a community group and serving in some way within the body. The program for organizing community groups is excellent, and they REALLY emphasize that community groups are the life of the church. Community groups keep each other accountable, are there for each other in the hard times, visit during hospital stays, talk each other through life. Having our community group has been a really amazing and really challenging thing for us - I'm so thankful for it.

2. Service Opportunities. Also on our first visit we asked how we we could get involved if we choice Watermark as our church. They immediately handed us a list of a service opportunities two pages long. I really love that this church doesn't want people to just come to church - you're meant to be IN the community, actively a part of the mission. Isaac's been able to teach church history (his passion) and help edit church materials, I've been able to work with infants, jr. high girls, and handicapped kids.

3. This place is alive. This is most remarkable to me. It have been consistently amazed over the past two years to see people come to this church and be changed. My friends have had their marriage brought back from the brink of disaster, and they meet with a good number of others with the same stories. I've met a number of people who have come to faith after a random visit to this church that led to to much more, and that includes a man I met on the bus and mentioned my church to. I really believe that knowing God and worshipping him together changes people and should create a truly different, dynamic community that is characterized by love. I see that here, and if the thousands of people and fancy lights and theater seating go with it, I'll put up with it.

I took these photos last week at our yearly baptism Sunday. About 100 people got baptized, of all shapes, colors, and ages. I tend to be pretty cynical and I rarely get emotional about this kind of thing, but baptism has always gotten to me. It's AMAZING to see people publicly affirm their faith, and there is something very deep and sacred about the rite of baptism.

It was awesome. This was a mom being baptized, with her husband, two kids, and our pastor there with her as she told her story of faith to her family.

From spring 2009

From spring 2009

Community groups gathered around their members that were being baptized.

What was most emotional for me (I was snapping photos and then wiping away tears) was watching the jr. high kids that were baptized. I had a front row seat to see these jr. high small groups gather around their members and just rejoice with them as they were baptized. I know their leaders, and I've begun to know these kids and their stories. These girls are another group the same age as my jr. high girls.

She was in tears as she turned to her dad as soon as she came up out of the water.

And how awesome is this girl's expression as she comes out of the water?

This is a video one of our guys put together last year on baptism Sunday. The guy that raises his fist in victory as he comes out of the water has an amazing story - at this point he'd only been a Christian a short while.

Baptism Spring 08 from Steve V on Vimeo.

So... that's why I go to my church here. Because I see God in the people there, and in how they love each other and the strangers around them.

1 comment:

Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom said...

Your church sounds sounds amazing... I'm in the process of finding a church to be involved with again... that hard "getting to know you" stage. I love the emphasis on community you mentioned... that's really huge.