Family Visit at Fellowship Church

I’m one of those kids who grew up far removed from extended family–we lived in East Tennessee while my Mom’s family was in West Tennessee and my Dad’s family was in Louisiana.  We’d see the cousins, aunts, and uncles on annual trips, and it always amused me to know exactly what each aunt and uncle would say when they saw me:  “Oh, my goodness!  Look at how you’ve grown!”  

One year it was less amusing than others and I started complaining to Mom about the “look how you’ve grown” chorus.  “What’s the big deal?  Nobody else ever makes a fuss over me growing.”  

Mom wisely explained that, while I was growing all along, it wasn’t as obvious to people who saw me every week, because the changes were more subtle.  It’s the people who didn’t sit through the process who most easily notice and appreciate the change from one year to the next.

Today I worshiped at Fellowship Church for the first time since July of last year.  Fellowship is my home church, but I don’t get to attend because of my duties at Powell Church on Sunday mornings.  Today I had the morning off from Powell and went with my family to Fellowship.

And today I got a taste of what Aunt Mae felt when she saw me at Thanksgiving.  “Oh my goodness….”

When I was on staff at Fellowship there wasn’t a lot of growth to be seen.  Change came hard and at a high cost, and every inch gained by those of us who wanted to see Fellowship grow and progress in ministry effectiveness was matched by an inch lost to those who wanted to see Fellowship retreat to its glory days.  Proposed improvements to worship center technology were shot down as “extravagant” and “self-indulgent.”  When we added an audition to our worship-volunteer selection process we were dismissed as “shallow” and “all about the show.”  Concerns about aesthetics in worship and production values were derided as “fleshly,” “frustrating the Spirit,” and “immature.”

I don’t know much about the “how” behind the changes that have taken place–for all I know it may still be a battle of inches, but I doubt it because 1) the differences can be measured in feet and yards now, and 2) the rate of change appears to be accelerating.  The “how” is not for me to know, anyway.  I can sure see and discern the “what,” though!

Here are the markers of growth I saw just in the service today:

  1. Rick Dunn referred to The Pastor of Children’s Ministry as “Pastor Gwen” from the stage.  Back in the day her predecessor (also a woman and for all practical purposes also a pastor) had the title “Director of Children’s Ministry” simply because the church leadership couldn’t abide a woman having the “pastor” title.  Fellowship’s ability to call things by their real names is remarkable and commendable.
  2. There’s been a noticeable bump in the quality of in-house video production.  The interview with the college student about serving in Children’s Ministry was spot-on, not only in its writing and content, but also in its videography and editing.  Nicely done!
  3. Someone’s paying attention to aesthetics and design in the graphic arts.  The onscreen packaging of the sermon topic was fantastic.  I don’t know, but I suspect the message-planning horizon at Fellowship is approaching or even exceeding 3 months now.
  4. Someone’s paying attention to onstage lighting.  The color of the scrim wash now coordinates with the palette of the screen graphic behind the song lyrics.
  5. The speaker can now advance his onscreen slides from the stage with a handheld remote without having to give cues to the production booth!  Sweetness.
  6. There’s a lot of new technology on the stage in general, which means there’s money being spent on making things work well.
  7. The band not only plays together really well, but the playing is very musical.  Noticeable variety in dynamics and energy levels makes this artist very happy.

Kudos to the staff and volunteers who are putting together Sunday mornings at Fellowship.  You’ve come far, and at least one person has noticed.


2 Responses to “Family Visit at Fellowship Church”

  1. 1 Dean Cooper April 20, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Hey B! I miss that place. You’ve got me interested in visiting it one Sunday. Good to see you blogging again.

  2. 2 Michael Cates April 22, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Byron – thanks for your kind and encouraging words. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and I’m grateful for the years you spent championing the arts and the values of excellence for Christ’s sake at Fellowship.

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