• Willmar’s Harvest Community Church: The sermon

    Like I mentioned in my previous post, long prep, the sermon began. Topic: The ministry of the holy spirit.

    So… what is the ministry of the holy spirit?

    First, it convicts and reproves. I got the giggles when he mentioned how the holy spirit “pricks the heart.” My mind raced to George Carlin when he said, “On television you can prick your finger, but you can’t finger your prick.” I shouldn’t let my mind wander so much but my feet were half asleep and I rather assumed that the holy spirit must have been pricking at them.

    Second, the holy spirit regenerates, creates new beginnings. That’s quite vague.

    Third, it baptizes. He talked a lot about this including speaking in tongues or the lack thereof. I can’t recall his conclusion, though.

    I know that speaking in tongues is a hot topic in many churches. It’s a strange conversation that measures the spirituality of an individual based on whether they’re able to engage in glossolalia. The seriousness of this topic cannot be understated… evidently.

    It’s now 11:00 and the minister is still talking about holy spirit baptism. My feet are dying. Apparently, the Holy Spirit:

    1. Gives you inward dominance over sin.
    2. Gives you consistent victory of satan and his schemes.
    3. Gives you a life of joy and praise.
    4. Helps you exercise a prayer ministry.
    5. Helps you become an inspired witness for christ.

    As a copywriter, I can’t help but note those are some pretty weak benefits. Quite fuzzy, too. Nothing concrete.

    The entire praise band is seated to my right. I note they’re not listening to the sermon and are instead texting on their smart phones. I vaguely wish I had a smart phone. I calculate how much time it would take to transfer to a new device.

    At 11:30, the sermon is finally winding down and the musicians start their magic. The minister winds up to an altar call. He wants people to stand and pray for a “corrupt world that desperately needs the light of christ.”

    He yells a bit and I hear my husband’s hearing aid buzz as a reaction to the sudden noise. I realize DH is not very happy. The musicians REALLY get into the music. There’s one woman dancing in a most odd way. I can’t take my eyes off her. I hope, for her sake, nobody captures a video and uploads to Youtube. (These were the people who just a few moments ago were texting. I suppose they could have been texting holy stuff.)

    Everything concluded at 11:45.

    I’m hungry, tired, my feet feel needley, and I’m wondering how anyone could have gleaned anything from that experience.

    Final score card:

    I’ll rank our experiences on a purely subjective scale. Each category is worth 20 points, with five categories, each visit can accumulate up to 100 points. I know it’s silly to rank one church experience, but I went in with these five categories in mind and was curious to see how the experience would sift out. If you’ll indulge me, here are my tallies:

    * Facilities/ease of navigation/parking lot and such:

    Aside from the cheesy railroad motif, dark atmosphere, windowless sanctuary, lack of a crowd, the facilities were rather easy to navigate. 15/20

    * Friendliness/comfort level for newbies:

    People we already knew were friendly. Other people, not so much. We didn’t meet anybody new. 5/20.

    * Citations to support claims:

    No outside sources, no citations. 0/20

    * Ease of following the service:

    No bulletin. No order of service. No hymnal 0/20

    * Urge to go back: Nope. 0/20

    Final score: 20/100

     

    Category: My OpinionReview

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    Article by: Beth Erickson

    I'm Beth Ann Erickson, a freelance writer, publisher, and skeptic. I live in Central Minnesota with my husband, son, and two rescue pups. Life is flippin' good. :)

    2 comments

    1. Wow Beth, spot on about the church. What used to be a thriving, growing church that was in the forefront serving the community has become a shadow of its former self. There was no “split”, but rather dozens of families independently left, one by one, because of the pastor (who is now, by default, the one-man leadership board.) He was unwilling to accept criticism or to yield to any authority, and has simply and stubbornly out-lasted his detractors.

      1. Thanks for your insight! I wondered what happened. Visiting that congregation was an interesting experience after being gone for so long.

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