Yesterday morning I suckered my ‘rents and my bro into driving up to San Francisco with me to scope out Mission Bay Community Church (I billed it as an “excellent family bonding opportunity” in “sunny SF,” which was incidentally far enough away from the Santa Cruz fires that the air didn’t smell like a campfire or make one’s eyes tear up).
So we piled in the car around 9:45 and chugged up the 101 (yes, I went to undergrad in SoCal and YES I picked up and have held onto that nasty habit of adding an article to freeway numbers). We got there early, or at least got off the freeway early… only we had a bit of trouble at first finding the church. Actually, what happened was that we blew past the church altogether, missing the sign which was shaded by some trees on the side of an industrial looking building. I should have known better than to look for something blatantly “churchy” but obviously not. Anyways, my dad spotted the sign, we snagged a parking space and skipped on in (at least I did) in time with the sound system with 5 minutes to spare.
The church was pretty neat, in terms of aesthetics. BRC and Co. have created an awesome atmosphere that feels instantly welcoming (which was precisely what my dad pointed out when we sat down). There were big couches interspersed with pews and folding chairs, some of which were organized around cafe tables. There was an open kitchen in the back with coffee, tea, and donuts, and the mostly 20-30 something crowd was clustered about throughout the space engaged in conversation with one another. It felt almost like a friendly, industrial coffee shop. We snagged a table and some coffee and chatted with some of the people around us, who were also quite friendly.
Worship itself was, as I heard BRC say before, not all that different and yet different all at once. There was a definite emphasis on music, which was a good mix of old and new led by a worship band, and a definite lack of emphasis on individualism or anything that moved people away from the communal aspect… so there were no hymnals to stare at or bulletins to get lost in, and everything was projected on the front on a screen. Again, my dad seemed to like that a lot. I felt as though, if you were looking for community, it was pretty hard to miss it there (gawd I sound like an ego-booster for BRC right now, I bet.). Overall, the coolest for me was the rationale for why they encourage people to move around or engage the service however they feel comfortable, that being that they want to celebrate and affirm that people process information in different ways, and that it is important to facilitate an atmosphere that encourages people to see church as a home and not a place that asks that people deny who they are (at least, I think I got that right…)
Sermon was decent, I had a question or two, but then again that was welcome in the room as well. Generally, it was a great experience and my brother, someone who would rather do almost anything rather than go to church, gave possibly the best compliment he could: “well, it wasn’t boring, thats for sure.”
So way to go, MBCC. You failed to bore my bro, and my ‘rents loved it–all in all a success in my book. It was fun, it was interesting, it was genuine. I look forward to hearing about how things are going as this fun and welcoming church continues to grow and discover itself.