Sunday 19 March 2006

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.

9 thoughts on “Sunday 19 March 2006

  1. The verse you’re looking for is Matthew 7;7 onwards I think.

    Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking………..

  2. I’m not sure that’s what Matthew 7:7-12 means. The verse reads:
    “Ask, and God will give to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will open for you.” (NCV)
    However, As Jesus demonstrates later in the passage it is relative to God’s goodness. For example, a child may wish to have chocolate to excess but a good parent would deny the child for its own good (obesity, tooth decay, etc being possible results of over indulgence).
    When preaching on the above verses it is important to remember that it has a caveat – as I’ve already said God’s goodness or in line with His will.
    There is no harm in praying for something but God can say “no” or “not just now” as well as “yes”. There are wider issues regarding discernment and persistant prayer but it is important to remember God is not a cosmic Santa Claus.
    Finally it is about asking God to meet our needs not our every material whim. I’d like a 1967 Ford Mustang, a house by Lake Como and to play for AC Milan but I get the feeling I’m not going to wake up and find that the keys for my Skoda have changed to those of a Mustang nor will my flat have relocated and I don’t think I’ll be missed at Milan’s training ground.
    Another way of looking at it is this. If we get our lives aligned with God then we’re going to be thinking the same (not very well put but I’m tired) and seeking of God what he wants us to do then God will equip us accordingly. Remember this is from the sermon on the mount which was teaching for the disciples. The disciples were charged with spreading the Gospel, not spreading earthly wealth.
    Hope that helps.

  3. And three years on c7 is still the same… cult.. I feel as if Jason is treated as if he is God.. did you get this feeling… i know ur visit was three years ago but if you rmemory can travel back to such days. I mus say your candyfloss comment is right on the dot. 🙂

  4. Hello Cheryl, welcome to my blog. Thinking back – and yes you’re right it is a long time ago! – I think what you’ve written is consistent with my experience. I hope you’re finding yourself a good church to be a part of. God bless.

  5. Hi Simon,

    I’ve been going to C7 for a few months now and was wondering where you ended up settling in the end and why?

    I haven’t really looked around anywhere else and have met some lovely people at the church, though have doubts on some of the teachings and methods (such as cheering with anything that is said, all about monetary giving and new people finding christ every service).

  6. Hello Aran. I can well sympathise with your feelings about the church, and it’s interesting that I still get visits to this site via Google searches that suggest there are a lot of concerns about it among people.

    Click on the “glasgow church search” tag at the bottom of the post and you’ll read the rest of the story and see where I ended up! It was quite a revealing adventure. I can well recommend having a look at other places, even if it is just to reaffirm that you want to stay at C7. Comparison is always a good thing to help think through what makes a good church for you.

    I’m not in Glasgow any more, though.

    Good luck and God bless with whatever decisions you face.

  7. I think c7 is a great church, i have been going sinçe january and haven’t felt a connection with jesus or god until i started. Great church

  8. I’ve been looking around and thought giving church a final chance after the crap I have been dealt with before in churches. With them trying to force me into relationships with members of the congregation and them dictating my career. Also I got fed up with people saying how they would pray when I was going through rough times when I needed help which is why I reach out to atheists as they have a greater understanding and more willing to help and provide meaningful support.

    I went to c7 for around 2 months and while it seemed great with the band and presentation I started to notice some issues. The prosperity teaching and hollow “feel good” messages with watered down biblical teachings. They seem to be obsessed with giving money and they tell you the more money you give you will receive more cash and people would always interrupt conversations as “they need to talk to someone else”. I also turned up early one time and witnessed their prep talk about how they need to make the show (service) spectacular. I managed to speak to a member of the band who informed me they have to dress in a certain way that is deemed suitable by the stylist which just showed me the church is all about presentation and no substance. It’s all an act and while there are some people who are genuinely nice a lot of the people are putting on an act.

    I’m at my 6th church in Glasgow and I’m not 100% sure (just waiting on getting forced into a relationship if I stay) and I might just jack in the church for good.

  9. Hi Rab. Thanks for your comment. That’s concerning to read, and it is not healthy when a church acts in such a way where the core substance and message is clouded out by presentation.

    I do hope you keep up your search. There are many good ones out there and the fact that you’re in Glasgow means you’re within reach of perhaps the greatest concentration of churches in the country. Do keep exploring and I hope you can find somewhere that you find fits and challenges you appropriately.

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