Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sunday at Canyon Road Assembly of God

First of all, sorry for the inactivity on this page. I got busy and distracted by a few things in life. I'm not back in full force with 2 blog entries in 2 days.

Last Sunday, I went to Canyon Road Assembly of God Church. A little background information is in order for the Assemblies of God:
  • The Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal church in the world with over 66 million members.
  • They are Evangelical.
  • They believe in the Trinity, that Christ is the second person in the Trinity who died for the sins of mankind.
  • Believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
  • They believe the Bible is the Word of God and the final authority.
  • Believe in salvation by grace through faith alone.
  • Believe in baptism in the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit such as speaking in tongues, faith healing, etc.
  • Practice baptism by full immersion, separate from salvation which, which prepares the person for service as a Christian.
  • Practice communion, which is symbolic of sharing in the atonement of Jesus.
So how was Canyon Road?


Canyon road on 12th street in Ogden and is literally down the road from the mouth of a canyon in the mountains. The building is pretty unremarkable from the outside, and other than church signs and a pretty little rock display, you might think it was a strip mall for dentists' offices and insurance companies.

I didn't get any pictures of the chapel inside. It wasn't too different from chapels at other Evangelical churches: stage up front with a live band playing, colored lights shining onto an abstract modern backdrop, a cross in the center of the wall behind the stage, padded chairs lined up in rows, nothing too different. The only thing that made the inside setting different than Alpine Church, the Genesis Project, Crossroads, etc, was that this one had multiple flags draped along the walls of various countries.

Overall, the same sort of atmosphere I've come to expect from Evangelical churches. Not much variation or innovation with most of these churches. What's interesting is around here so many people tell me that they just discovered Alpine, or the Genesis Project, or some other church and tell me that it's not like any other church they've seen and that I need to check it out. But it seems that this type of church setting is more the rule than the exception with Evangelical churches. They all have a coffee bar, they all have a live band that plays contemporary Christian music, they all use multimedia, they all have special seminars and classes, etc.

I think the main reason people around here feel these churches are unique and not like anything else is because most of the people going to these churches come from LDS backgrounds and this style of worship is vastly different from that. But it is far from unique.

The People:

The people were pretty nice to us. We were greeted and escorted to the chapel by a lovely lady dressed very well in a summer outfit. She introduced us to the pastor who asked us a couple questions and welcomed us to the church.

There were people of all sorts of walks of life dressed in everything from suits and ties to track suits. There was a lady in front of me who had a fan made out of blue feathers. I wanted to steal it out of her hands and run I loved it so much. But of course I wouldn't.

Overall, the people were nice. Not much else to note on them.

The Service:

The service was what I've come to expect from an Evangelical church, they began with a song, opening prayer, announcements, a few more songs, then a sermon and altar call.

The announcements were interesting. They talked about a youth event that had some PowerPoint slides to go with it. Then they talked about how they had members going to Mexico for a mission that sounded like it would also include a revival at the end. The pastor said he was flying out later that day to join them.

Afterward, they talked about a fundraiser they had. There was a couple of Latino guys who got up and spoke about the fundraiser. One spoke about it in Spanish, the other translated. There was a Spanish video that wasn't translated at all advertising the event. It turns out it's a fundraiser to help orphans in Latin countries. At least that's what I gathered from the presentation.

The church is also focused heavily on missionary work. They seem to have a lot of active missionary programs and brought up how important it was to go out and save people. I noticed most of their missions were to Latin America.

The service was nothing I haven't seen before at other similar churches. I feel like with many of these Evangelical denominations I rehash the same things.

The Message:

The message was on prayer and was pretty similar in many ways to the sermon given at Crossroads Christian Fellowship a few weeks back. As such, I'm not going to really rehash a lot of the same points as you can read about them there.

What I will say is that the tone of the sermon was different. While at Crossroads, it was given in a loving gentle sort of manner, as though the pastor were talking to his friends or family in his sweet Irish accent, here it was very much done in a preaching style and delivered as a well mapped out sermon.

Some differing points he made:

  • Prayer is like steroids. It boosts up your spirit and your life
  • Prayer feels good and is supernatural. This is an interesting point. Prayer doesn't feel good because it's supernatural. We actually feel good due to it stimulating parts of your brain that other activities such as mediation will do. It will create a sense of connection, euphoria, and relax you. All of this is quite natural and well studied.
  • Complaining is bad. Prayer is the answer to making you stop complaining.
  • If you don't invest your time in church or God, then how can you expect to feel connected? If you're feeling disconnected from either, it's not on them, it's on you.
Again, pretty similar sermon to the previous one.

Overall Experience:

I feel jaded saying this service was just business as usual. But it really felt that way. I don't see a lot of variety in these churches and would like to. I understand this is what most Evangelical Christians want in a service, but it just leaves me wondering each time, is this all? In a lot of other spiritual communities, there is a lot of symbolism, a lot of ritual, special holidays that call to mind differing parts of the tradition. You fast some days, you don't others. Here, it all just seems to be the same thing in and out every week with no real variety. When does it go deeper than sing these songs and listen to this man tell you what to believe?

Additional Notes:

Expect another blog tomorrow about Faith Baptist Church. I went to this church for my friend Austin. This was his childhood church, and though we had already been to a Fundamentalist Baptist church, I felt it was important for him to experience this.

Stay tuned for that because it was quite interesting, to say the least.

Until next time, peace be with you!

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