Unfortunately, I couldn't get one of their church logo's to upload on here, so the best I can do is to say, "Click Here" for Newport Church.
I was excited to go to Newport Church tonight at the recommendation of Blythe and Melissa...and also Mrs. Kaplan. Linda was telling me that Josh really enjoyed Newport Church, and I was excited to go to the place where he had last worshipped at.
I left early, because PCH can be quite a drive. I arrived about 15 minutes before the 8pm service, and I had no trouble finding the place because there were people everywhere. I parked across the street and started to walk over to where everyone was (still not really knowing if that was the church or not), and asked a young lady if that was Hillsong/Newport Church. She was nice and peppy, and exclaimed back to me in an Australian accent, "Yes! Is this your first time?!" I told her it was, and she welcomed me, and then apologized because she "had to run."
I crossed the street and was greeted by an official greeter, whom I quickly realized that I went to high school with. Her name is Camyron, and we briefly caught up on things, and she directed me where to go.
I then approached a madhouse of people. Well, it wasn't really in a "house", but in a parking lot. There were people everywhere. There was coffee and sofa's, cd's and tee-shirts for sale...it was pretty cool. I went straight for the door because I was a little overwhelmed with all my options (and I didn't want to spend any money on Hillsong CD's...quite a temptation). I got to the door only to realize that they were not letting anyone in yet. I looked like a retard because I honestly didn't think the surfer looking, blond haired guy had any authority over that door. He quickly stopped me and with the most surfer/hang loose voice ever, he said, "Woa hooaa there little lady...can't go in yet...but let me show you this cool handshake"... I gave him my hand and he warned me, "This might hurt"...
He continued to somehow flick the edge of my hand (it didn't hurt at all), and then scooted me over to the side. At this point, I was a little freaked out (mostly that they would put that guy at the front door). *I am obviously just kidding...he was a nice kid*
Anyway, at this point I got my phone out to call Blythe and Melissa, and quickly learned that they were at the table buying things. We caught up quickly, amongst all the hustle and bustle, and then I said my goodbyes, and finally entered the church (or Dennis Rodman's old club).
As soon as I entered, I was digging the atmosphere...especially the sound guys who were behind the "bar". I was immediately approached by a young woman who asked, "Are you looking for a seat?!" I nodded yes, and she quickly pulled a chair out of the last row, and sat me down in the middle of a married woman and a homeless guy, Tim. Okay, maybe it's wrong of me to assume Tim is homeless, but I hope you know me well enough to trust that I am not trying to judge anyone...just make observations of the diverse community at Newport Church.
The service began exactly at 8pm. It was like, the clock chimed eight, and that band immediately started playing, which was pretty cool.
People went nuts.
Not a bad nuts...not an out of control nuts...but just a crazy dancing nuts. I thought of South Padre, Texas (Beachreach.org) worship nights. There were 600 of us, SO on fire for the Lord, and we just couldn't help but to dance.
But this was different. At first I didn't know what I wanted to say about their style of worship, but then I realized it is just that...a style. The way they worship is normal to them. It's not meant to be extravagant and distracting, it's just they way they worship. And that's cool.
We sang a few songs, and at some points, I couldn't help but get really excited and dance along.
*Sidenote* - sometimes I "sway" during worship at my church...and I think I am being a little too extreme. At Newport Church, my swaying gives the impression that I am shy and introverted....me? ...introverted?...
Their worship team was made up of 2 acoustic guitars (one was the lead singer), 1 bass guitar (who was a chick), 1 electric guitar, keyboards (who also sang), drums, and 2 other singers. They were reeeally good.
It was a worship night tonight, but the pastor still got up to say a few words. And by "few", I mean Chris Norman "few" (sorry, I just had to make that joke here). He got up and preached from "The Message" Bible translation which was quite interesting. The showed some video announcements which were similar to these older ones:
I really like their video announcements. I found it interesting that when they were "video announcing" about something to do with "love", they quoted some Greek Philosopher...and not the Bible...kinda silly.
Then of course, the pastor restated all the video announcements. After that, he went into a time of preaching and praying for the "Kingdom Giving". He put a real big emphasis on the tithe (I was almost convinced to give money!). He talked about being generous, not only with money, but with words and attitudes...that was cool. Then he gave away a free CD, which I think he did a lot because as soon as held it up in the air, everyone put their hands up, like when the LA Angel girls come out with those slingshots and tee-shirts.
It was also cool because the pastor mentioned "Brett", who was leaving for Europe the next week, and they were having a goodbye party and things for him the next Sunday. I love it when pastors make their churches seem really small (like a family).
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any good quality video of what a worship service is like at Newport Church, but this is the best I could find:
The pastor gave an altar call after the night was coming to a close, and it seemed that some people had raised their hands to accept Christ, but the pastor had everyone pray the prayer outloud, so I couldn't really tell.
I then ran into Blythe's friend, Monica, on my way out. She was kind enough to answer some questions I had about the church. There was this huge emphasis on the "Kingdom", which is definitely a major theological interest of mine, but I am wondering if they mean it in the same way I do. I kind of want to research that a little more.
I finally asked Monica, "What is her favorite thing about the church". She said, "Two things, one, I love the worship, and two, I love that this is my family...we are all a family here."
And then, it hit me. Yes, college students like good music, and their worship is musically good, and fun to dance to, but mostly, they want to feel like the belong. They want to feel needed and wanted...they want to feel like the body of Christ they belong to is their family. When people are not connected to a church, it's no wonder they leave. And when people are like family, and leave anyway, it's no wonder that it hurts so bad.
Honestly, I felt wanted at this church. I could easily go back next weekend and already have four people legitimately remember me. I think that's pretty cool. I hope that when I go on staff at Kingsfield, I can help make people feel like they belong at our church...and that they are cared for...because they are!
Other random things that I loved:
* I loved how when I exited the service, there was people walking around with some kind of "hot beverage" for me to take off their trays. It was totally random...but I really liked it.
* I loved how the senior pastor put a huge emphasis on "expecting God to do big things". This has been something I have been praying for a lot lately (for my heart to expect great things from God). We should walk into a church service and seriously expect for God to do mighty things...we need be expectant followers.
* I loved how everyone was in a great mood. I mean, I want people to be honest about their lives, and usually lives are not perfect, but seriously, we come to church on Sundays to worship an amazing Lord and Savior! We should be happy and excited about that! And these people were.
* I loved how they met on PCH in Newport, right next to Joe's Crab Shack. They were in the middle of life. I am sure many people have just wandered in there and gotten saved.
In conclusion, their big emphasis was "Heaven and Earth". While I was worshipping, I thought of how this was a little like heaven...because the worship was just so exciting...it was like, heaven on earth.
I thought of Josh, and I smiled. Because he had been going to a church where he was getting a little taste of worship in heaven...and now, he is experiencing the real deal.