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First Baptist Church, Martin, TN

It was an unfortunate set of details but we didn’t have church services today at Westside Baptist Church. Some minor gas leaks were found in our building this past week so we got repairmen on the job immediately. However, with highs only in the 40’s today and with no heat in the building, we had no choice but to decide to have no activities or services on our campus today.

As I encouraged the Westside family to scatter out and visit other churches for worship today, I took my family to Martin, Tennessee to spend time with Jamie & Katie Mantooth and their family. (I chose not to attend a local church. I can only imagine the rumor mill’s activity if someone saw Kim and me in their church. Might they quickly speculate that things were not going well at Westside? I didn’t want to temp it. HA) We started our time together as we worshiped with them at their church at First Baptist Church in Martin.

The music was great and the message was well done. And as I walked to our car after the service, I couldn’t help but remember why I so much enjoy going to other churches when we get a chance. Here are a few of the things I always take mental notes on when I attend other church services:

  1. As I pulled my car into the Guest Parking spot on arriving to the church, I saw a prime opportunity to see what it feels like to be a visitor in a church. Would anyone greet me? Would folks make us feel welcomed? Where is the Welcome Center? Is the signage sufficient to help me not look like I don’t know where I’m going?
  2. When I received my bulletin, I looked it over. What kind of information makes it into their weekly bulletin and how is it arranged? Is it helpful and what can I learn from what they did right?
  3. When I stepped into the sanctuary, I watched to see what the dynamic was like. Did people quietly sit in their seats or did they mingle? Was there music to set the mood or was there no background noise? Was the pastor and staff mingling with the congregation? Were people generally smiling and laughing or was the atmosphere too quiet and serious?
  4. As the worship service began, I watched to see how this church worshiped. Were they stiff or were worshipers enjoying a freedom in their worship? Were the musicians and vocalists good? Had they practiced sufficiently? Was it fake or were they genuinely worshiping and leading us in worship? Were the songs relevant to who was showing up? Was the song service ultimately worshipful to God?
  5. I was also interested to see how they did things like make the announcements, welcome guests, and anything else they interjected into the service.
  6. As the sermon was delivered, I was really interested! I know what it’s like behind the pulpit but often forget what it’s like sitting in the pew. Was the sermon bible and Christ-centered? Was it relevant? Was I made to see it’s relevance? Was there humor? Were the illustrations appropriate and well-delivered? Was multi-media used? Did the preacher engage in intentional eye contact? Was the progression of the sermon logical? Etc., etc., etc.

Well, you get the idea. I love going to other churches to see how they do things and determine what could benefit Westside. But, that being said, I can’t wait to be back with my own church family on Wednesday and then in 7 days on Sunday!