Woodside Bible Church

Troy
Michigan
Senior Pastor: 
Doug Schmidt
Denomination: 
Non-Denominational
Well, at least they have good, overpriced coffee
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You know the churches that have a cheap 8 grand espresso machine, and open a "cafe" every Sunday morning and Wednesday night to serve subpar coffee?  Yeah, that's not Woodside.  They don't waste time with a consumer machine and hock bad coffee as culture.  They're the kind of church that thinks harder, better, faster, stronger.  They would never be caught dead with a $8,000 machine.  They'd spend 15 grand on the espresso machine, 4 grand on the POS terminals, 1 grand on the undercounter stainless steel refrigerator, 3 grand on the coffee brewers, and more money on the remodeling the cafe interior.  Woodside Bible?  They don't mess around with their coffe in an attempt to manufacture culture. (Nor do they mess around with their sound or lighting system.)

Spending like that puts me off from any Church immediately, but Doug Schmidt, the Senior Pastor, summed up why I could never be a regular Woodside attendee.  Doug said if he could sum up the New Testament in two words they would be: “He’s coming.”

Really?

“He’s coming.”

That’s your two words?  If you could sum up the New Testament, the Gospel, the whole point of Jesus’ teachings you’d just tell us, “he’s coming.”  Not, “help others”?  Not, “love everyone”?  Every so often two words can make or break a relationship—romantic, friendship, business, casual—not very often, but occasionally, two words can fix, or kill, anything.  And these two words, “he’s coming” signaled why every time I go to Woodside I get a little angry, lose a little bit of faith, and just can’t do it anymore.  My issue with them isn’t the espresso machine, the extremely conservative slanted bookstore, the conference center style building, or the horrible floral pattern upholstery seats.  We disagree on the most fundamental of levels, how we interpret, and live, the Bible.

I've never had such a strong negative reaction to a church like I have  at Woodside.  Every thing irked me about this church.  Nothing seem genuine--from the teaching to the people--it all seemed geared to getting people in the door and being able to make another click on the mechanical counter.

While I know some great people who attend (or have attended) Woodside, I can't recommend the Church.  Everytime I go I can't help but feel they're missing the point.

Comments

 Drew, I have to ask, "What is the Point"? How do you think a church should be? What are your fundamental levels, how do you interpret and live the Bible? 

"He's Coming" ask's me "Am I Ready". Have I lived a life that reflects what Jesus taught us in the New Testament. Helping  and loving others, living my life for and to God. Drew I think you missed that point.

I think your assessment is short sided and to explain things the way you have is wrong. I was there on that Sunday as I go every week.  Did you listen to the message, I know I did and I understand what Doug was trying to teach us.

You wrote:
If you could sum up the New Testament, the Gospel, the whole point of Jesus’ teachings you’d just tell us, “he’s coming.”  Not, “help others”?  Not, “love everyone”? 
Every week the message is to help others, to love and to live life the way the bible teaches us.
You wrote:
It all seemed geared to getting people in the door and being able to make another click on the mechanical counter.
Here is where I think you are somewhat correct. It is about getting people in the door, but not for just a mechanical click on a counter. The things we have at Woodside help bring people in and if making them a good cup of coffee brings them in the door to start their journey with the lord how is that wrong?
My Nephew signed up for drum lessons that were being offered. He was the only one who signed up and guess what they still gave him lessons for 10 weeks. They didn’t say well we don’t have enough people this is not worth it. They said welcome to our church we are glad to see you let’s get started. Do you think they did this for just another click on how many people attend? I don’t.
I guess I should make the assumption that you write negative stuff just to get people to your site so you can get another click on your web counter.
Greg Whaley

Greg,

Well, my only issue with what you've said is how does coffee really help the situation? I mean, I'm not really ever going to try to bring someone to church and "And by the way, they're coffee is *amazing*" is going to be the clencher for them. I mean, I understand invest a grand (maybe) or thereabouts so you don't have to use machines that pour out sludgy coffee. But, I just don't see that particular element being enough of a persuasion worth the investment. For me, the coffee isn't going to make or break a church for me. It's nice for right before service or something if I didn't have time to grab breakfast, but at the end of the day it's not going to be the thing that remotely crosses my mind when choosing whether to stay or not. On the other hand what will is whether or not people talk to me, an ability to find a place to plug in (like a small group, BBQs, etc.), how strong the sense of community is, and the honesty that the church has.

"Well... It was pretty good. The teaching was alright, the music wasn't really my style and I felt totally out of place. But man, those cappuccinos were great! I'm staying."

If the point was to provide a place for fellowshipping and to meet with people... I just feel like there are better and less expensive ways to do that. Does that make sense?

Lastly, that is absolutely incredible that they still gave your nephew lessons. That really sends a great message about how they view the kids. That by itself tells you that they care about him as an individual, and that he is important enough to them to still bother and to spend time with him. That's is wonderful. I have the highest regard for them for that!

Deanna

Drew,

  Man are you SO wrong at your assesment of Woodside. Do you know anything about this church at all?  As a biker who was saved a little over 8 years ago and who has been attending Woodside for over 6 of those years, I have to say that Woodside is an absolutley AWESOME church! My wife and I walked in looking like we do and they welcomed us with open arms. And if you knew anything about the Bible, Pastor Doug's answer of "He's coming", would make perfect sense.

We are commanded by our Father, through His Word, in the New Testament, to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Perhaps you need to study the New Testament a little harder and see what God's instructions for us are. Then I suggest you look into the things that Woodside is doing in the local community and the world and see how it lines up with God's Word and not your interpretation. You'll see, if you are open to the truth, that Woodside is right on track and serving God's will absolutely. As Jesus' own words in Rev. 22:12 states,  "And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." I believe Woodside's reward will be great, according to God's Word, but I wonder what your reward will be for bashing good churches which you know nothing about who are doing God's will? I will be praying for you brother. To sum it up, "He' coming."

Drew

I'm glad you weren't so put off that you came back (several times it seems). My outlook on a church and what I base my thought on a church is to what standard it uses to preach. Too many times there is a "it seems to me" or "I think the Bible says" theology that many churches have today. I do not see a comprise of the word at Woodside. All the teaching Pastor's preach God's word - not watered down. Beyond that I look at a few things to determine the effectiveness of a church. How they spread the word locally and internationally, how they reach the "least of these", and if they provide opportunities for spiritual growth.

Within the past two weeks WBC has sent out three mission teams overseas and have at least three more teams by the end of the summer ( that is  the Troy campus alone). They just had over 700 kids at the annual VBS and have over 600 at a basketball program each winter (65% of which are not Woodside members). The church is also very active in reaching folks through divorce care and is VERY active in the disability community and has several programs to minister to those people and their families. there are several opportunities each day for people to attend a Bible study - any day of the week - to enhance their walk with Christ.

Perhaps next visit you can take your thoughts off the coffee machine or the pattern on the chair and listen to God's word preached and see his people work.

Blessings to you.

My brother,

If I may, I really don't look to the exterior of much in this world. The first service I walked into at the traditional service, was exactly what I was looking for from a home group church. I was welcomed, I was edified, Iwas invited out to breakfast with some long time members. Over the course of my 5 years of attedning Woodside Pastor Doug teaches the gospel message  from the gospel. He is not afraid to teach it exactly the way it is. Which I truly respect from a teacher he doesn't preach to itchy ears. To truly be a part of the church you need to get  plugged in. The invisible church is alive and well at Woodside. In my short 5 year walk in faith. I have seen it witnessed it and been a part of it. 

God bless you my friend, May our Lord's grace peace, and mercy be with you always.

Don't look for your faith in the body look for it in Christ.

We are all sinners only made righteous by what He accomplished on the cross.

My brother,

If I may, I really don't look to the exterior of much in this world. The first service I walked into at the traditional service, was exactly what I was looking for from a home group church. I was welcomed, I was edified, Iwas invited out to breakfast with some long time members. Over the course of my 5 years of attedning Woodside Pastor Doug teaches the gospel message  from the gospel. He is not afraid to teach it exactly the way it is. Which I truly respect from a teacher he doesn't preach to itchy ears. To truly be a part of the church you need to get  plugged in. The invisible church is alive and well at Woodside. In my short 5 year walk in faith. I have seen it witnessed it and been a part of it. 

God bless you my friend, May our Lord's grace peace, and mercy be with you always.

Don't look for your faith in the body look for it in Christ.

We are all sinners only made righteous by what He accomplished on the cross.

Drew:

Having a professing atheist critique any Christian church is like a person with no sense of smell or taste writing a food review.  You may tell us what others have said or what you think the meal tastes like, but why would anyone seeking a great restaurant experience actually take his advice?  So, before you ask someone to sum up  the New Testament in two words, then criticize him for his answer, maybe you'd better understand the language.  "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (I Corinthians 2:14)  Non-Christians can't understand God, and can't grasp the concept that God's Spirit lives in believers.  Just as a person with no taste buds can't enjoy fine food, a person who has rejected God can't undertand his beautiful message.

Linda

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I attended Woodside for several years until work took me out of state. The preaching is doctrinally sound, and the church's emphasis (in general) on reaching out to the broken and hurting is second to none. (Drew, the reason why Christians love and reach out to others and serve others is precisely BECAUSE He--Jesus--is coming back).

However, there is one ministry at Woodside--single adults--that is, frankly, run like a high-school clique. If you don't fit the 'mold', you will quickly find yourself on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, the pastors continually turn a blind eye to this cancer instead of addressing it. James 2:8-9 says partiality is a sin.

I see the media coverage has come into play!  Instead of replying to everyone, I’m gonna do an umbrella post and hopefully cover all the issues raised.  First a few simple points:

  1. I am actually a Christian, not an atheist.  Though I can see the appeal. (Also, if your Church can’t be understood by non-Christians, what the hell is the point?)
  2. I actually have read and know the Bible.  The issue here isn’t that we don’t know it, we just interpret it differently.  Interpretation is everything.  God has spoken, everything else is commentary.
  3. This isn’t my website.  So, to say that I’m trying to raise my hits by being negative is misguided.  I could've just be negative because I had an issue to raise.
  4. If Christians never bashed each other we wouldn’t have the Bible.  Thanks Paul!

Now to the larger questions:

What’s the point?

There are two ways to look at the point, and I’ll use my the wording from my review: “He’s coming” and “Love Everyone.”  The two words you use reflect the structural underpinnings of your faith.  I agree that the point is to help others, but we differ on what that actually means.

What I’ve seen from the comments here are an emphasis on Jesus’ death.  The point of the Gospel is “by what He accomplished on the cross.” Jesus dying wasn’t a big deal.  In fact, it changed nothing.  It’s what happened after that changed everything.  The Resurrection.  The Resurrection changes the story from a charismatic and insightful rabbi with good jokes to the Messiah with good news.  With the Resurrection we’ve entered into a realm of where things mean something because in the end God wins.  And not in a fit of fiery judgment, but in a long, drawn-out walk of love.

When viewed this way, the Resurrection becomes more than a coda at the end of a story.  It instead is the end that ties in all the plot pieces, and puts them at a whole new level.  The Way wasn’t a way out, it was a way to look at the problems at home.  And the problems aren’t that people don’t understand a transactional element of salvation.  The problems are that God’s creations are suffering, and not just some transcendental, my spirit is aching suffering, but a physical suffering of hunger, thirst, and oppression.  An earthly, dirty problem with earthly, dirty solutions.

My issue with “He’s coming” is that it undercuts Jesus’ life.  His parables, his actions, his teachings to the apostles.  The overarching theme of Jesus’ ministry is “Love others” not “I’ll be back.”  Not, “don’t worry, I’ll get that later,” but, “don’t worry, we can fix this.”

The Door

The role of a church should never be to bring people in the door.  It should be to get people out of it.  The church should help us shape ourselves, take actions, and get us into the community to affect a change.  If we lived like Christ than we no one would have an issue identifying with Christians.  With the 38 grand dropped on the cafe (just for the equipment, not counting labor) what good is it for?  To get people inside the church so they can stay there?  (And while it’s a good machine, their is better and cheaper coffee not to far away at the Bean and Leaf.)  That 38 grand could have served a lot of other purposes.  Go 10 minutes west down M-59 and Pontiac will give us a few ideas.  Or 25 minutes south to Detroit and will be struck with a myriad of ideas.  (While yes, I assume the project did provide jobs to members of the community [and not all volunteer work], which is always appreciated the goal of the cafe irks me.)

To often, we’ve become wedded to the building, and what we’ve accomplished in the it.  Not how are accomplishment play outside it.  600 people at the basketball camp?  Cool.  700 kids at the VBS?  Impressive numbers.  I remember my church put on a 24/7 lock-in, with 5 different music stages, a cafe, and a variety of games.  Like all outreach events, it required everyone to sit in the main sanctuary and listen to a conversion sermon (and an altar call, naturally).  Some of the kids found a way to ditch the sermon all together, some kids just tapped their feet waiting to get out so they could listen to music, some kids responded to the altar call (most of them just renewing their commitment to Christ), and of those I’m sure some of them were just caught up in the moment and didn’t really think it through.  There was a similar deal at a local skatepark: listen to a 20 minute sermon and skate for free!  I don’t think I actually knew a kid who actually paid attention.

The most successful outreach I’ve seen are the ones without a Gospel requirement, but just let the Gospel be lived.  Helping to help, without the preconditions of the sermon, but just doing it.  I’ve seen a couple churches do this with their homeless outreach: they go down to where the homeless population is, and hold a picnic (for lack of a better word).  They invite whoever they see, tell homeless shelters, and other organizations around about the picnic.  They serve the people who show up, and sit down and chat.  No preaching, sermonizing, or tract giving.  They do exactly what Jesus taught--affirm the existence of others--and in doing so become the place where the Resurrection happens.  When people ask “Why?” The answer is always simple, “It’s what Jesus taught.”  The effect is always profound: these aren’t people who are giving food aren’t trying to find a sneaky way to hand someone a Bible, or targeting a group that will add to their congregational numbers; they’re just doing it because somebody needed help.

When I went to Woodside, a member was recounting her mission trip to South Africa.  The main thrust of her story was how she met a woman, diagnosed with AIDS, struggling to get by and support herself and a young son.  The story briefly hit on the fact of what they actually did to physically help this woman (teach her a skill? Help secure clean water? Provide some maintenance in her village?) but that at the end of the trip, the woman still hadn’t accepted Jesus.  Do you think the woman cared about this high-end, other-worldly god, or more about the God who had disciples who physically changed things for her?  We were asked to pray that the woman from the village accepted Jesus.  I’d rather we’d pray that her life gets better, and then we follow up that prayer with action.

So, why’ll it’s nice they offer free drum lessons (and I hope he enjoys them, or at least finds a love of music; the arts are great influence on everyone’s life), or have an impressive cafe, or have a movie night I think they’re missing the point.  The point isn’t an endless obsession with how many converts a church has made (and really, that’s just a code word for how big the congregation is), but how many lives the church has affirmed with their help.

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This link contain's the blog entries on Drew's website that have to do with Woodside. en.wordpress.com/tag/woodside-bible-church/

Thanks for posting this James 2:8-9 - says a lot about motive. Nice hobby - going around to different churches and pointing out problems and issues like coffee pots.

What I do find interesting is how the response has been to attack the original poster rather than discuss the issues and be humble about the problems.

I have absolutely no issues with discussing problems. I do not pretend that Woodisde is some perfect place to worship. I do recognize (thanks to the link you provided) an agenda and a pattern when I see it. At the very least this guy has an issue with Christian churches and hops around from church to church with a self appointed goal of finding what he dosn't like. And at the worst he may even be the type of believer that does not seem to focus on what is important (if the word of God is the foundation of the church), but likes to gossip.  Think that is a topic  in the Bible somewhere :)  I'm sure you are aware of that type of believer, James, the type that will sit back complain,and gossip while doing nothing to contribute to the gospel or the local church.

Drew

I appreciate your view and your thought out posts.
I have reached the point in my life where I am neither impressed or offended by things such has if a church has a coffee machine, music, the color on the walls, or what pattern is on the chairs.
That you have had two well thought out post and have not yet mentioned any issues with the preached word from the pulpit says much.
The “He’s coming” statement to me, is both a hallelujah and a challenge for the believer.

As for your “but how many lives the church has affirmed with their help” statement. Perhaps you missed the entire teaching series last year on becoming a generous church. Months were spent in that series and members assisted each other as well as individuals and charities in the community during difficult times. At another time a special offering was taken (un announced) for the victims of the Haiti earthquake that collected over $50,000 - above and beyond the normal offering.

You may have also missed the mission trips and partnerships with people in Pontiac (Grace centers of Hope and Spanish speaking church) and Detroit (Rescue Mission and others - a trip scheduled there this summer), India, Ecuador, the Ukraine, Jamaica, and ministering to those affected by the sex slave industry in Bangkok. Since we’ve been attending I’ve seen at least 8-10 mission trips a year - locally, throughout the country and internationally. Also, many missionaries are supported by the church as a whole and its members.
There is also an active prison ministry and the Recovery, Divorce care and Disability ministries are very active and effective. Not to mention the VBS and basketball programs earlier mentioned. Not sure if those are enough lives being affirmed for you.

As we have been there for several years we have noticed that as the church physically grows it also grows in its commitment to serving others and missions.

I certainly understand that people at most churches can find issues with wall color, music, chairs and coffee pots, but I try not to major on the minor.

I don’t need to, nor do I want to play the “Our church is better than yours” game. I truly hope you are in a church that is pleasing to you. I just feel you need to stop smelling the coffee and see the Lord work - you could not have missed Him if you dared to look.    
 

He is coming -

There is a deeper issue than Drew just criticizing the coffee pots. The deeper issue is: are they putting their money where their mouth is? It's amazing that $50,000+ went to Haiti. The uprising and incredible generosity of that congregation is beautiful. But how is it that half that amount, if not more, went into a coffee bar?

 

Anyone can throw out a dollar amount or figure. Ask Drew where he came up with that number. Then, ask him if individuals donated that money specific to that project.  Then have him find  how many speant their own money and time on projects in and around that church. Ask him if unemployed skilled tradesmen eagerly wanted to help in that project. Well Deanna, let me ask you - are they putting their money...? What do you know about their spending that I don't?

Perhaps your church spent months collecting clothing, money and spent time donating to local charities during these bad economic times (even paid each others bills) Or, maybe your church has outreaches in your community that reaches over 650 for kids basketball/cheer leading and over 700 for VBS. Maybe your church has several hundred in attendance for young adult ministries each week. Maybe your church is spending enough to support five mission trips this summer - in the high school youth program alone. (not to mention several other adult trips throughout the year). Maybe your church has invested enough to have  thriving and growing ministries that meet people where they are at - like divorce care, recovery and disability ministries.  Maybe starting a building project in Bangkock to help kids out the sex trade or having a partnership with a man in India who is the largest tract distributor in that region of the world is not putting their money where their mouth is.

Perhaps the church you are a member of spends more if it's money and time on outreach and ministries than those at Woodside, and good for you. See, to me, those outreaches and mission trips ARE  the "deeper issue"

So are you saying that Woodside would be a more effective church if it hadn't spent so much on coffee pots? Really?

I eagerly await your financial tips on how Woodside can be more prudent with it's money and then more effective to it's community and world.

I get that the "mega chruch" is not for everyone. I can also understand the perception that somehow mega churches spend a lot on themselves and ignore their purpose. But you're gonna have to come up with more than a coffee cafe to show me that Woodside is not an effective church for the gospel. I've not once come across and outreach event where we said "come to our church - you'll like our cafe"

Blessing to you and your church.

 PS - I don't even drink coffee.

Hey, hey. No reason to get snippy at me, I'm just asking. If the congregation completely donated that money, then fine. That shows me the community wanted it for a specific purpose, and it wasn't the church just throwing frivolous money at a mini-Starbucks.

Did I ever say to you that Woodside wasn't an effective church? All I asked was a simple question about monetary priorities and how it looks from the outside.

It sounds like you're in leadership, honestly. I know you at least attend there, so can I just ask you what the purpose of the coffee place is? Or what was wrong with the one you had before upstairs? I mean, okay, fine, buy some milk steaming machines, espresso machines and make it nice. That's fine. But what was the goal of the larger one that you built? I'm not asking in a mocking tone. I genuinely want to know, because you may have a perfect explanation for us and it would make perfect sense.

I admire you guys greatly for using unemployed people for the construction. That is definitely helping your community. I commend you for that.

I don't disagree with you much at all. In fact, I went going to Woodside for over a month a while back. My experience was quite pleasant. I didn't end up staying because I was mostly there just to be with my family and I had some personal issues going on, but I can't say anything bad about them. The pastor knew my parents by name, which was incredible. I was in one of the adult Sunday school classes which was wonderful. The guy who taught it was later promoted to being an elder (or deacon, or something), and he was down to earth, honest, and was very thought-provoking. I was mildly freaked out because that single class alone held the same amount of people my entire church previously was altogether, but that was alright. I can't speak on the main service since I never went, but my overall impression was very good.

I can't speak to Woodside's budget. Nor do I really care to. All I'm saying is, and this actually happens in other places than Woodside, that churches end up spending little pockets of money that really are completely unnecessary. For instance: The church I went to when I first moved to Michigan spent over $7k a year just on a floral arrangement for in front of the pulpit. Completely unnecessary. If they wanted the pulpit to look nice, they could have easily found cheaper bouquets, searched for a florist who would donate, or bought several fake plants that they could rotate in and out and still had plenty of that money leftover.

At another church in Oakland county, I know for a fact that ONE of their backlights for the stage was more than my entire year's wages. How can that be? I'm not in lighting tech or anything so I don't know the industry, but is that really necessary to spend that much on one light?

Now, you don't have to be a meager martyr, or have your church be in shambles, because it's not wrong to spend money on your building. It's just when it becomes excessive, it's really difficult to continue there in good conscience. Is there a balance that can be struck between making the congregation endure massive amounts of feedback because of a blown out system you refuse to replace (like the church I used to attend), and making sure it doesn't look like you're being outfitted to become the next primetime TV network or Starbucks? (I'm not saying you are, because you're not, but I'm giving you the opposite extreme of a spectrum for analogy's sake.)

That's all I'm asking. There's a balance.

It's essentially like the Christmas problem. An atheist friend of mine hates it when Christians get all weird about Christmas, because the way he sees is we shouldn't be out there fretting like everyone else over money and gifts and stuff, because that's not what we claim the holiday is about. And yet we still do? It's an unconscious priority issue, and other people can see it even if we can't.

Apology if I sounded snippy - not my intent. I have grown tired over the years however of folks (not you) who become brave by posting something without knowldege or research. Thus, their opinion becomes fact.

To answer some of your questions - no, I am not in leadership, but have been involved in many of the mission trips and ministries listed.

As to why the new coffee cafe instead of the old one? Easy, when that building was first built the average weekend attendance was around 1,800 - now nearing 5,000. Simply out grew that space up there.

How many of the 650ish kids who came to basketball came to only play basketball? How many of the 700 who went to VBS went because their parents made them? How many of the several hundreds of people who attend youth services go for the coffee, or because their parents dragged them along? I've seen this a lot with churches, both big and small. The number will more often then not surprise you.

It's very cool that you can fund several missions trips at home and abroad (where do your missions trips go? just curious), and yes, I'm sure that the idea, the meaning of the missions trips is to bring people closer to God, but even down to the way you're oh-so-subtley explaining the us all what Woodside is capable of doing/what they are doing, you're bringing to light the same point that Drew is trying to make, and you are blindly disregarding.
Churches survive off the donation bucket. And churches who have money use it as a status symbol. The countless dollars (I believe Drew estimated it at approximately $23k just for the cafe? Exaggeration? I don't know, but regardless) bigger churches spend scream out "we have money to do God's bidding!" The cafe is your beamer, while other churches serve coffee in second or thirdhand thermos' and serve watered down lemonade in 10 gallon thrift store coolers, or their old '90s sedan that suits them just fine. Sure, there's nothing inherently wrong with owning the beamer, but waving it around is where it all falls apart.

I think it's something that bigger churches, mega-churches especially, don't realize and lose sight of. Of course it's not your coffee, it's God, right? Missions trips are missions trips, not a chance for people to go somewhere in another country and come back with cool stories to tell their friends, or stand up at the alter and talk about their AWESOME GOD experience, so all eyes are focused on them. The AWESOME GOD experiences eventually become the "second-rate beamers" as it were. I've seen it before. All eyes focus on you, countless "praise God!" and "Amen!"s can be heard throughout the crowd as you recount your AWESOME GOD experience for the 12th time. --hey look, my beamer is a convertible! all eyes on me!--

The building project in Bangkok or partnership with a man in India is indeed a noble task. But the way you threw it out there, the way people are constantly reminded of ALL THE THINGS WE ARE DOING ELSEWHERE is just another status simple. It's the diamond-encrusted watch and cufflinks. The 100 year old sherry, the 200 year old bottle of wine, the diamond necklace and pure gold ring band around your finger.

I must say, I've been to all sorts of churches. I grew up in a small church, my father was a traveling pastor, and we went to several small churches, some for one week, some for a couple weeks. I went to big churches, Catholic churches, and all sorts of Protestant churches. House churches and churches in old theaters downtown, complete with the cool marquee lit up at night. I've witnessed the politics. The good and the bad. The budgetary constraints (the church I grew up in barely made enough money to cover the rent, let alone send out missions trips), and the rejoices of finally breaking even, or overflowing donation buckets. I know when a church spends more money then I'll ever make on lighting and sound equipment (the church I grew up in was broken into and most all the sound system was stolen. We did worship with two speakers and one monitor. Or maybe it was one speaker, two monitors), coffee machines and the floral arrangements, and I know the churches that ask their lower-middle-class attendees for $100k in less than a month-and-a-half because they want to move into a new building (God was telling them too, nothing was wrong with the current building).

However, the most intimate, the most real church experience I've ever had is when I went to an Amish church. Yes, the people who forsake fortune and luxury for a plain lifestyle. They were the most genuine. They literally spent half the service analyzing one word, one verse, one chapter of one book of the bible. It's not because their pastor was unraveling a mighty truth before them (hint: they had no pastor), but it's because they literally took the time to understand every word. Sometimes they didn't fully comprehend a word, and they would look for the context, look for prior usages. They looked at the context, and they tried to understand the context. They didn't try and sum up the entire Bible in two words, because they KNEW they couldn't.

So I guess I should get to my point. Status symbols only go so far. Throwing your hands up saying "look at me! look at what I'm doing!" only goes so far. The more we do this, the further we get from the real point. But what is the point, anyway.

Disclaimer: I'm a Christian.

My guess is all of the 650ish kids came to the basketball ministry to play basketball. I do know this, the program (Upwardbasketball.org) is very effective as I have personally seen kids and families come to a relationship with Christ and then begin their faith walk with a new church. As of a couple years ago over 60% of the basketball players were not Woodside kids. So, I guess that they ALL wanted to play basketball - it's an outreach. As for the VBS - not sure how many forced their kids, but I do know that this is also an effective ministry.

Recent and planned mission trips off the top of my head - India, Ecuador, the Ukraine, Jamaica, Pontiac,Detroit, Missouri.

In no way was I pointing out the ministries and mission trips as a way of saying 'look at me" or as a status symbol - just pointing out to my friend Drew that if buying  expensive coffee pots was all a church was doing, then I see the point. And although I can point out things at Woodside that I might do differently,  it can not be honestly argued that Woodside's people have not been a witness for Christ locally and globally.

The "meaga church" does not have a corner on wasteful spending. Just that their spending on missions, outreaches and yes, coffee pots may be more visable.

 

Perhaps I may be wrong, but I believe that the Pastor made his "He's coming" reference at the end of a Christmas program  that focused on the birth of Christ. Thus, when he stated that if he were to sum up the new testament he would with two words.. The comparison of His birth and His return (made sense to me at the time)  Again, this is an outreach event and was a 2 minute talk after the program - not a sermon.

A blogger with an agenda. No kidding? Lot of brave people hide behind their agenda and keyboard. Hey Drew, I'll save you some time on your next critique.

" Today I went to (fill in the blank) church. I hated it because (again, fill in the blank - using one of the following: music, parking lot, coffee machine, chair pattern, color on the walls, carpet). I will never go their again."

To save even more time you don't even have to actually go to one of these buildings - just check their website. Now, all you have to do is come up with a fake name and a neat web site. Wow, how brilliant.

He is coming,

 

Judging by your comments, I've hit a nerve.  I don't want to drag this thread into off-topic material, but feel free to contact me (e-mail address is on my blog, which I assume you've visited) if you'd like to discuss your issues in-depth.  I also encourage you to check out some of my other church posts, where I think you'll find the formula isn't followed.  But like I said, this is off-topic for ChurchRater!

I hope to hear from you soon,

 

Drew

No nerve struck - I'm just upset with myself that I didn't recognize this for what it really is. Thought I had stumbled upon an honest and objective look at churches. Seems you have a little hobby of church bashing for church bashing sake. That's OK - everyone has their thing, I suppose. When you visit a church once or maybe even twice an opinion you may have, but not an in depth knowledge of what that church offers or teaches -  or you might have come away with realizing the many ministries and outreaches I've listed. Not interested in reaching you by e-mail or sustaining this any further (don't need a pen pal).

Blessings to you and I really hope you enjoy where you are worshipping. 

May I make one interjection that must be taken into account from either side of this issue:

Christ's Church is a Hospital for sinners -- NOT a Haven for Saints. --- ;>)

It must have a proper "nursing staff" -- with the purpose of helping get sinners on the path to "wellness".

It must use the "medicine" Chirst himself disperses -- and NOT use experimental "drugs" on the "patients" !!

I sense a lot of bent up hostilities in this forum and frustrations on the aprt of a lot of people. I perceive there is no perfect church and if there were it would be imperfect when most of us get there. I think a lot of Christians today need to try to be Jesus to the people they meet everyday not just on Sundays (or Saturdays or Fridays or whatever day they choose to "worship")

I hear young kids and teenagers primarily today talking about "Awesome" things, but to me this is a personal thing and a lack of education on our parts to teach them that only God is truly "AWESOME". Those cool cars, clothes, movies, theme parks (Disney included) are really "COOL" ( a sixties word lol) but only God and He alone is truly AWESOME.

THINK ABOUT IT!

I think most people are in church for what they get out of it for themselves, not to give to someone else for what impact it may have on the other person's life.

When I die I want to just ask for one of two things on my tombstone, either "He served God" or "I told you I was sick and you wouldn't listen to me"

Let's quit quibbling over coffee pots, fabrics on pews, color of carpets and remember this......

We as God's presence in this world need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in our Christian Life. This is NOT Heaven. Life is a journey, not a destination, Heaven is the destination.

You may not love me, but you cannot stop me from loving you

NUFF SAID

 

Folks, please keep it civil. In my opinion, people outside the church--such as Drew--have incredibly important input as Christ's commission was to serve others, not our selves. I think this is basically a healthy discussion, but I see it coming close to typical forum/comment board diatribe, and that's not what this site is about. Ever. So be cool and recognize that people you disagree with often have something to teach you.

Are we allowed to interject just a little humor? --

I note that when I look at the author of a post --- I find an ongoing update --

He is coming on Tue, 06/29/2010

He is coming on Wed, 06/30/2010  ------    ;>)

 

 

 Aha! That's hilarious. :)

Allowed? ENCOURAGED. Please, do. Levity keeps things healthy, IMO. Look at our homepage...! Somebody was feeling silly when they put that copy together.

And now - 07/01/2010 - guess we never really know.

That is three times - one for pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib. There, that will start a REAL argument

Drew:  I owe you an apology.  I was confused (to say the least) when I called you an atheist. I hope you will forgive me.

Linda

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Keep something else in mind: The Bible says we are to defend and have an answer for our faith--not our church. Read through the postings on this blog and ask yourself what--the faith or Woodside Bible Church and its ministries--is primarily being defended?

James

The faith of Woodside was not brought up by the original poster - except to quote a statement by the Senior Pastor after a  Christmas program.  That two word statement was the reasoning why Drew hated Woodside and it's people (from a posting on his site). That Drew had an issue with those two words is an opinion and not a statement to the church's teachings or beliefs. I would find Drew more credible if the two words were not theological, but the fact that Drew woulda picked different words means little. I'm sure you are aware that for every ten believers there at least twenty different belief systems as to how a church should be run.

I have grown weary of bloggers of all ilks (sports, politics, news, religion, etc...) who play hit and run with the facts and believe their postings to be gospel (pun intended) - when no real research or thought was put behind their original post.

His stating that a cafe is indented to "manufacture culture" is misguided at the least and purposeful gossip at the most. If he had an issue with the faith or belief system taught then I could respect that.

I feel that I do not have to defend either. But if you'd like, i could. It wasn't MY faith that was the topic of the original post. Frankly, the time, effort and money an individual and/or a church spends on it's ministries and missions probably tells volumns about "our faith"

I would agree with time and effort. Absolutely. However, keeping in mind that the early Christians were not rich by any means and since the church I attend in my new hometown--as many churches in this rural area do--literally lives out of boxes as it moves sanctuary, sound, worship, nursery, and Sunday School to and from the space it rents for its services each Sunday, especially as I witness the tremendous impact it is having in the community and the world, I'm not so sure I agree any longer that money is a good indicator.

Agreed and well put, James. My point exactly - I guess I shoulda sought your wisdom from the start - my point was the amount spent (for the record - not sure where Drew came up with the amount) or not spent on a cafe has nothing to do with a church's beliefs or effectivness for the gospel. Again, well said.

The number comes from shopping around, I went to various suppliers that sell the products that Woodside used in the cafe.  I gave Woodside the benefit of the doubt, and assumed they'd take the least expensive (and accounted for their 501(c)(3) status).  The number I gave is based off of that research.

Drew, I do hope you have a church home that you go to to worship. To attend a Christmas program, then take an inventory of equipment at a church cafe and then take the time to shop those items around town says a lot (particularly about motive).  The amount spent on that and the folks in charge of spending that money are accountable to the Lord and then the  members of that church. Any opinion from anyone else is just that - opinion. It is also speculation. Do you know if any of that was donated?

That Pastor Doug that you chastise is perhaps the most approachable Pastor I've seen. If he is sinning or you feel over spending you owe it to him as a believer to approach him and call him out. He is very visible in between services, as he greets people at the main door into the sanctuary after services and I'm sure would be glad to engage you in matter of scripture or spending.

 

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