Today we visited our fourth church in the Sacramento area.  The month began with Bayside Church, a megachurch in Granite Bay.  We then visited Fair Oaks UMC.  Last week we attended a nondenominational church in midtown called Restoration Life.  Today we returned to the mainline for a visit to First Christian Church in East Sacramento.

A few thoughts on the visits thus far:

  1. Forms of Worship: Both “evangelical” churches basically had two liturgical parts:  music and preaching.  Each service began with about 30 minutes of praise music led by a small band.  Prayer was woven into the music by the lead musician.  Following the music, the pastors shared expository reflections on Biblical texts.  In the two “mainline” congregations the liturgy consisted of more parts:  spoken call to worship, opening prayer, music, readings, music, children’s sermons, sermon, prayer, and more music.  First Christian Church closed with communion, the only of the four churches include this sacrament in worship.  While music was used to gather and center people in the evangelical churches, music was woven throughout the mainline services.
  2. Aesthetics: Bayside is an enormous complex.  The sanctuary is essentially a gymnasium with dimmed lights and multiple screens.  Restoration Life transforms a former office building into a worship space.  Fair Oaks UMC is a small, more traditional sanctuary with no screens.  First Christian Church is larger than Fair Oaks in terms of space, but feels very similar.
  3. Music:  Several songs played at Bayside were also played at Restoration Life and First Christian.  While the same songs were played, the different setting created very different experiences of the music for me.