Every Christmas Eve, my family attends service with my Grandparents at Forest Hill Community Church. My Grandpa is an elder there, though they haven’t been attending the church long, relative to where they attended before moving to Memphis.
When they first moved up here, circa 1992, everyone in my family that lived here (An Aunt Uncle and cousins, Grama and Grandpa, My family) went to Quince Rd Church of Christ. What I as an 8 year old didn’t understand, was that problems had been brewing there for a while. The deaconship was very, lets say foward thinking, wanting to change up some of our 1950’s style worship service. The elders, on the other hand, were not so keen on the idea. Eventually, the group of deacons and their families took their Max Lucado books and started a new church called “Community Church of Christ”. For about six months, approximately 200 people attended in a ball room at the Adams Mark Hotel. Sometime during that period, someone threw a guitar into the mix, and a whole bunch of people left. You know, its ok to be “liberal” but only to a certain point right?
Well, long stort short, eventually, a good thing got too small for some of the families with children who wanted a strong youth group for their kids to grow up in, so Community Church (dropped the “of Christ” during the whole deal) disbanded. Some went to a burgeoning MEga church called Hope Presbyterian. Some moved to Highland St church of Christ (my immediate family) Some went to Forest Hill Community Church. My grandparents were one family that did.
If you’d known my grandparents before they moved to memphis, you would have never expected them to attend a church with no c of c roots. There were dyed in teh wool, so to speak. But they found this new church, and liked it. They tried to convince my parents to come.
I never liked the church from the get go. I’m not sure what it was… something about it always made me feel like I was on Trinity Broadcasting Network, though that may have just been because someone always played the guitar or piano during a prayer. That just screamed televangelist in my mind. I told my parents I didn’t want to go there, and that I would attend Highland as soon as I got my drivers license. That convinced them to stay at Highland, and I believe it was a good decision. Anyway, back to the story.
I can’t stand going to Forest Hill. I don’t know what it is exactly. Maybe its that I feel like its a show. Something about the way the stage is set up, or the fact that the pastor talks like a DJ on a christian radio station, I’m not sure. One thing that bugs me the most is how my Grandparents rant and rave about it. I understand they love the church, and they love the ministry of music (I don’t say worship ministry, cause it’s never struck me as being about that too much. That’s just an opinion though. But Saturday night, they starte oohing and aahhing cause the pastor and his wife were doing a duet with him on the piano and her singing “O Holy Night”. They are both talented, but they do the same thing every year, and its always the finale, and, forgive me for being this way, but I feel like everything at that church is the Pastor and his Wife show. Its one of those churches where they are involved in everything going on. I know there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but its just not my preference.
The final thing that irks me about that church is either
A: If the christmas program is for outreach, why do they give everyone and envelope to give an extra “Christmas Gift” to the church
B: If its not outreach, why the minisermon, complete with 5 minute long “Sinner’s Prayer” for you to repeat after the pastor.
I am not someone who thinks the only way to be saved is to be dunked under the water. But the sinner’s prayer almost seems more trite than that. Especially when no one comes foward, they just repeat in their mind what the preacher is saying. Its like, if you don’t say these words that I’m going ot say to you, you aren’t going to heaven. And oh yeah, Salvation is totally an individual thing… don’t bother letting anyone know that you’re praying the prayer.
Anyway, I’m really glad that my parents didn’t make me go to church there, cause I”m almost positive that I wouldn’t be where I am spiritually had we gone there.