I slept in this morning, so didn’t make it to Partick Trinity. I’ll save that delight till next Sunday. Tonight, though, I went to C7, a church plant by huge Australian hands-in-the-air merchants Hillsong. And what an experience it was.
Only started in August, they’ve been camping out in various venues around Glasgow and are currently using Partick Burgh Hall which is just down the hill from me. At the doorstep I was almost besieged by the welcome team… actually, “welcome mob” would be more appropriate – there were enthusiastic handshakes and cheery smiles all round, which was almost a bit over the top. Seriously, it was great to be greeted by people who actually seemed to care that I visited… just a bit surprising after the lacklustre efforts of other churches I’ve been to.
Inside the hall was very chilled out and bustling with people chatting, and with non-Christian music playing (I think someone like Supergrass, I’m not sure). Perhaps not the most holiest of atmospheres but maybe a great reassurance to someone visiting a church for the first time. I was greeted by more folk inside, ordinary members, who talked to me, introduced me to others, and generally made me feel well at home. And importantly, it was genuine chat, rather than a shallow “quick, new guy, let’s convert him” – I found myself getting to know people within moments.
The hall was laid out very nicely, with tables and stalls at the back, and really comfy seats to sit on, where I was greeted by yet more people, many of whom had only been coming to C7 a few weeks. The stage held the band, who kicked off the service with the sort of tuneless and lyrically anodyne music that makes me hate modern “trendy churches”. The band were accomplished, but their singing was truly awful, not helped by the terrible accoustics in the hall and the fact that the guys leading the singing were jumping around like Bez from the Happy Mondays.
The preacher/pastor, Jason, gave a bizarre sermon. He was one of the team sent out from Hillsong HQ in Sydney and his sermon was lively, humourous, and down to earth, but substantially lacking in the way of doctrine or informative scriptural interpretation. Amongst the jokes, audience interaction, and horrendous accoustics, it was hard to figure out exactly Jason was saying. The best I could make out, he was preaching that if we ask God for something and don’t get it, we should just keep asking. Not quite sure that’s on the button biblically, but I’ll leave it to those who know more than me to comment. I’m first to complain about long, boring, irrelevant sermons, but equally I want more than soundbites.
Also, for a church that was very hi-tech (their intimations were by video presentation!), there was unfortunately no use of powerpoint for Bible readings or sermon notes. Oh yes, and Jason was cheered on stage with a big rousing music intro, which I thought was a bit “personality cult”, frankly.
There was little of substance in the service – having background music during the prayers made it hard to concentrate, while there was little in the message about developing a deeper faith, only about coming to faith in the first place. With little explanation of what that means.
Afterwards I talked to more genuinely lovely people, including Jason the pastor who I found to be a very nice chap and who hoped I found the right church, whether it was C7 or not. I spoke to another guy who explained about the “lifegroups” they have midweek – allaying perhaps some of my fears about the superficiality of the place.
So, bit of a long blog there, but lots to write about as it was a compelling place. Sure, it was mostly just spiritual candyfloss, but bloody fantastic people and a great sense of community in evidence. This is a new, confident church with lots of energy and drive. They definitely warrant a second visit.