This morning, I chose to attend the 9:15 AM service at REACH Church, a corporate church located at 10700 Anderson Mill Rd #150, Austin, TX 78750. The "campus", as they call it on their website, is located within a strip of businesses. As I pulled into the parking lot, a woman holding an orange sign that read "Welcome" smiled and waved at me and pointed to a parking spot marked as reserved for first time visitors. As I was walking up the stairs, the woman greeted me and introduced herself as Peggy and walked me to the door where I was greeted by another woman, Billie. Peggy then returned to her post in the parking lot and Billie gave me a tour of the church, showing me the information center, the coffee area - mentioning that coffee is permitted in the sanctuary (good to know). Billie then walked me down the hall - pointing out the woman's facilities - and into the sanctuary. She welcomed me to sit anywhere I'd like and said to let her know if I have any questions. I thanked her and went to get a cup of coffee. After getting coffee, I visited with Barbara who was in the information center. I let Barbara know that I noticed they have 3 different services (9:15, 10:30 and 11:45) and asked her what the difference is. She said there is no difference, it's the same song and sermon. The only difference she said is the 9:15 has less attendees whereas the other 2 services are usually full. She then gave me an orange reusuable bag with a tumbler inside, a pamphlet about the churches lifegroups and a bookmark. I thanked her and went back the sanctuary.
I must have taken a long time because by the time I got to the sanctuary, the band was already singing. The band was very good - it felt like I was in a concert. All the songs that were sung this morning were contemporary - and the vibe of the music is that of the songs being led rather than the church congregation singing together in unison. The woman in the band who led Forever had an absolutely beautiful voice.
After worship the youth pastor, Tyler, greeted the congregation extending a warm welcome to the members and visitors. As he concluded his welcome a video began to play. The video was designed to welcome visitors and explain everything from their mission (to Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Purpose, and Make A Difference) to the connection card (located in the seat in front of you) to the service times on Wednesday. As a visitor, my impression is that this church really has the "Welcoming visitors" thing down pact.
After the video the Lead Pastor, Chris Gilkey, came to the stage and welcomed the congregation as well as those viewing online (I think his sermons are streamed via a podcast). As mentioned before, my goal when attending churches is to be an active participant. Part of doing this is sitting towards the front of the sanctuary. I almost wish I would have set a bit further back because I found it to be loud. The sermon was about 15 minutes and the topic today was "United" with the pastor introducing the idea to us that "Division is a recipe for a kingdom to fall" he says that we are not called to follow or become influenced by what's going on in our nation, but rather we should lead it - the kingdom of God should be the trendsetters, not the followers. When we got to the first scripture, the pastor said "read this together with me".. but I quickly learned he doesn't mean out loud - this made me laugh when I attended a different church at 10:30 this morning and that pastor said "read it with me" and he did mean to read it out loud (You never really know..). Through the scripture, the preacher lets us know that when we gather together - even in groups of 2 or 3 God's promise is that he will gather with us. Making a group of 2 an infinite group because He has all the answers. Pastor Gilkey referenced 2 Corin. 13:11 to demonstrate that walking in unity makes you better, declaring that if we "aim for restoration & not destruction, He will be with" us. By quoting Phillipeans 2:2-4, the pastor explained that God has given us one standard / one word whereas the world around us has instructions from multiple directions. He ended the sermon on an encouraging note to the congregation stating that there will be no stopping the church if we can come together as one. Pastor Gilkey ended the service with a prayer.
After the service ended the youth pastor addressed the congregation once more before the offering. He made a point to mention that there is no obligation to give, but also reminded us that there are 4 ways to give at the church: online, seat back envelope, text number (displayed on screen) and giving center in lobby. After the offering, the youth pastor ended the service in prayer.
After the sermon, I introduced myself to the lead pastor, but I think I caught him when he was in a hurry so I didn't talk to him much.
The church posts the podcast sermons online here.