Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We Finally Have a Home Church (But We Won't Stop Going to Other Churches)

The Bridge Church, Fresno
Over the past year, a lot of people have asked us about our "home church." Usually, we figure they want to make sure we've got people who support us spiritually and to whom we're accountable, so we've talked about Healdsburg Community Church, The Redeemed Life Church, and First Presbyterian Church of Santa Rosa -- all churches where we've had strong ties of family and friendship for years. But we acknowledge that for the past several years, we haven't really had a home church. We've been visitors, sometimes first time and sometimes frequent.

But as of this month, we have a home church: The Bridge in Fresno. We can see the buildings from our front windows, so we don't anticipate much trouble walking the two minutes from our door to the church parking lot. We were briefly part of the congregation more than 25 years ago, and we visited in March of 2015, when we were visiting former youth group members.

Here's a quick update since our last report:
  • The church has called a senior pastor, Andrew Smith. 
  • Seven worship services are held on the campus each Sunday, including an 8:00 am "traditional" service, two services in the cafe (with live music and video sermon), two "live" contemporary services in the sanctuary, a Spanish language worship service, and a deaf service. There are also an abundance of Sunday school classes for children and adults, as well as small groups that meet throughout the week.
  • There are people here who actually remember us from 1990. 
In the months to come, we anticipate becoming involved in an "Adult Bible Fellowhip" (or Sunday school) class, as well as attending at least one worship service here each week. 

But you'd get pretty bored with statistics from the same church week after week, so we don't expect to be reporting on The Bridge after this post. Instead, we hope to visit new churches (mostly in California) each week, generally following a monthly theme. 

Next month, we plan to go to each of the other churches in our neighborhood -- none more than half a mile away. We'll let you know how it goes!

Statistics
(so far this month, we've visited the "Traditions" service, "The Cafe," and "The Bridge Live") 
Service Length: Traditions 1 hour 12 minutes
The Cafe 1 hour 14 minutes
The Bridge Live 1 hour 15 minutes

Sermon Length: Traditions 42 minutes
The Cafe 40 minutes
The Bridge Live 36 minutes
Visitor Treatment: In each of the services, visitors were welcomed from the front multiple times. The church makes great efforts to ensure new visitors are greeted even before they enter the building, and there's an information station near (clearly marked) main entrance. We were greeted by at least five people as we walked into the Traditions service, and a couple (we later realized they had been our Sunday School teachers almost thirty years ago, although none of us recognized each other) invited us to lunch after church. Everyone in each service was encouraged to fill out the Connections card.
Followup by Tuesday Morning: On Monday, we received a personalized email from the Director of Community Life ; a day or two later, we got a phone call in response to an interest we'd expressed on the Connections card. We also got an email (again in response to interests we'd mentioned on the Connections card) from a member of the Missional Life Department.
Our Rough Count: 165 / 74 / 225
Probable Ushers’ Count: 190 / 80 / 230
Snacks: coffee, decaf, and hot water for tea were available in several locations around the campus. The Cafe had specialty coffee drinks available for purchase, and croissants, muffins, fresh fruit, and donuts were available as well (a "donations" jar was on the table with the snacks).
Musicians: Traditions had an orchestra, choir, and worship band that included an electric bass (man), 3 trumpets (men), violin (woman), saxophone (woman), trombone (man), flute (woman), drums (man), piano (woman), keyboard and organ (man). The choir consisted of 14 women and 8 men.
The Cafe had percussion (man), acoustic guitar (man), electric bass (man), and keyboards (woman)
The Bridge Live included an electric bass (man), electric guitar (man), drums (man), acoustic guitar (man), and vocals (woman)
Songs: Traditions
"O for a Thousand Tongues"
"All Because of Jesus"
"Shout to the Lord"
"The Power of Your Name" (choir only)
"Rise Up, O Church of God"
"Sanctuary"
The Cafe
"Stir in Me"
"What Joy"
"From the Inside Out"
"Love Came Down"
"Called me Higher"
The Bridge Live
"Dare you to Move"
"Everyday"
"All to Him"
"Take Heart"
"For the Sake of the World"
Miles to Church: 100 yards
WiFi Availability: open guest wifi
Tie/Suit Count: 12