A while back, the worship committee recommended that I take a Sunday off every two months to check out what other area churches are doing. I’ve rarely taken advantage of this–it seems the only days I have no responsibilities in worship, Amy is scheduled to run sound. But on January 20, we visited Ada Bible Church.

Ada Bible is about as far away from COS as you can get. For example, here’s their complete order of service (for those who have been at COS a long time, that means a liturgy):
Congregational Worship
Message – Jeff Manion

The service started with 3 or 4 songs. The sound system amplified the band enough that it didn’t really matter if anyone was singing, and few did. It was pretty clear that the music was warm up to the preaching. Of course, you can understand why they would want the sermon to be the centerpiece of the service. Jeff Manion is an extremely engaging preacher. He’s no Jack Roeda, of course, but he’s good. I especially liked the way he dug into scriptures in a way that was user-friendly for beginners. At one point, he asked people to turn to I Timothy 6, and he added, “If you’re new to the Bible, look in the table of contents under New Testament.” Little details like this go along way to making people feel a little less like outsiders.

The morning I visited Ada Bible, the announcement time was extraordinary. The pastor made a clear call for gifts above and beyond peoples’ normal tithes to go to an orphanage in Kenya. The church had already cut a check for $30,000 in response to the damages the orphanage sustained in Kenya’s riots. That made a big impression on me, especially in light of the budget discussion COS was having at the time. Also exemplary was the liturgical art. It was a combination of lights and hanging balls that created a very peaceful impression. (I know it sounds like I’m describing a disco ball…) Not only was it a cool effect, but it seemed to indicate that they’ve mobilized a number of artists to work on their services.

While there is much to learn from a church like Ada Bible, in the end it felt a bit unfulfilling to spend my Sunday morning in a dark room, and leave realizing that I’ve barely opened my mouth to sing, pray or take communion. As Brennan Manning describes worship without communion, it felt “like hors d’oeuvres without the meal.”