Visit Three: January
Wondering if it is cheating on your church to want to be listening to another church's pastor's extremely insightful sermons instead of the sort of incoherent one your pastor is preaching. Because he definitely hasn't developed a spiritual gift in the teaching area in the intervening months. Despite this, I am surprised to find myself automatically taking careful notes to keep myself paying attention like I used to in college and surprised that I don't really feel like I am missing something by not having really insightful teaching to listen to. It's not heretical (yet), and it's coming out of the Bible. And this church and pastor really do have many other important things to offer.
We go to the Welcome Lunch for new folks, where I learn that this church has roots in the Methodist holiness movement, the Baptist church, and the Pentecostal movement. Yes, Baptist Pentecostals: two words I honestly never thought would be located next to each other in this fashion. Apparently there were bunch of Baptist churches who were Pentecostals and didn't want to be part of the Assemblies of God because of its Methodist structure, so they formed the Independent Assemblies of God with the local church as the only structure.
I ask the pastor lots of questions and accidentally drink from his (identical cup), which is mildly embarrassing (the cup thing, not the questions). He talks about the balance between the extreme poles of the "spirit of dead orthodoxy" and the "spirit of weird" (as he calls it). I am getting more déjà vu here because they have to ground their practices in the Bible, since they have no denomination to tell them what they can't do.
The small group member who has very specific tastes in music and deep roots in the Baptist (no service can ever go over 1 hour and 15 minutes) church doesn't understand why we sing for so long and why everything takes so long, and the pastor says they have to leave room for the unexpected things the Holy Spirit might want to do. Small group man does not seem keen on this. It makes me a little sad because I was kind of hoping we could find a church we all liked, so we could keep up our several years of friendship since forming our small group, but I always knew it was likely his deal-breakers would be different from mine.