Part One : Another church visit
This morning Amy and I visited another church, North Metro Church in Kennesaw, GA.
We know quite a few people who attend North Metro and we've heard good things (to me the one downfall being a completely contemporary style). So Amy got off work this morning and we had breakfast and went to visit. We saw two couples we know who are also adopting as we arrived and we sat with Tim and Laura. Amy and I have an uncanny ability to pick Sundays to visit when either there is a special program or the pastor is out of town or both. Today was no different.
Aside from 2-3 worship songs (all completely foreign to us) at the beginning, they had an announcement or two about volunteering for ministries. It appears there is a LOT of money at this church because the ministry volunteer packet is four-color glossy and multiple-pages bound. The focus of the service today was baptism, not the subject, the action. The entire hour was 15 or so people, I think 12 of them under age 14, being baptized. Again about the money, and the contemporary thing, it was like watching the Olympics on TV with all the back-stories. Every person receiving the sacrament had a professionally-produced video that ran as their entourage came to stand near and their "special celebrity" dunker came up to administer the dunking. It was stuff like, Hi, my name is Johnny and I'm 8 years old. I like to play hockey and football and basketball and I go to __________ school, and I decided I want Jesus in my heart because ____________.
It made me think a lot about the scene in which John the Baptist is baptizing people in the river and Jesus comes to the scene. There was no video package introducing him or any of the others John baptized that day. It was a simple gathering. It made me remember the classic film depictions of baptisms in the South, with a choir on the shore of a river or lake and people wading in, fully clothed, and being baptized. I was not entirely comfortable with the multi-media event I witnessed this morning.
We'll go back to visit this church again next week or the week after, hopefully to hear a sermon. BTW one of the ministry volunteer positions was people to prepare treats for and to serve the worship band during the services. Would this be done in the green room? Is it in the contract rider that they get only Evian and no orange M&M's in the candy jar?
Part Two: A question I was asked...
While Amy slept this afternoon I went to Winston's to play cards. Cheryl, the lady who runs the card games asked how I was doing and I explained a bit about the experience this morning. She asked me if I could give her some advice, and this is the story she told me.
Cheryl has a long-time friend who is working with a church in the mid-west and is pursuing a degree in ministry. This friend has a son who is married and the son and daughter-in-law are Atheists. The son and his wife had a baby girl recently and Cheryl's friend told her that he planned to baptize (christen) his granddaughter contrary to his son and daughter-in-law's wishes. Cheryl's response was asking if he was crazy? He did not take it well, and the conversation ended abruptly after that. I think she said they have spoken once since then, but she still is concerned as to the right thing to tell her friend and the right thing for him to do.
It sounds like a bad situation to have to advise people on, but I think I have a good neutral angle and suggestion. I think Cheryl should call her friend and propose he do this.
It is the prerogative of the parents to raise their child as they see fit so long as they are not abusing or otherwise endangering the child. The grandfather should not secretly or overtly christen the baby against the wishes of her parents. It is very likely that the grandfather will have the opportunity to witness to the baby as she grows up, and Cheryl told me the son does not mind his father telling the baby about God and Jesus. As she ages into mental maturity, she will be able to make a decision for herself as to what she believes and the grandfather can guide her as she grows.
Until then, and especially now, the grandfather can do this... if he is a growing leader in his church and wants the support of the congregation regarding his granddaughter, I suggest he have a prayer of dedication for the baby (most likely in her absence). As the christening/baptism of a baby is about the parents announcing their desire and intent to raise the child to know and follow Christ, and for the congregation to affirm that choice and promise to support the child's walk, it would be perfect to do that in the absence of the baby and even perhaps set a weekly time to pray for the baby and it's parents. The congregation would be doing the same thing they normally would, simply without having the baby there and seeing it symbolically cleansed with water.
Thoughts and opinions? Cheryl thought I had given some great advice.