This morning we visited Real Life Fellowship in Flour Bluff.
Wow. I was impressed.
We visited Real Life several times during the past few years while they were in Corpus Christi. Honestly, each of those visits ended with us feeling underwhelmed. The music was unimpressive, the atmosphere was uninviting, and the messages were average. Each time, we wondered why people would return to the church.
But that was before.
Something has happened to Real Life in their move to Flour Bluff. The parking lot is friendlier, the foyer is outstanding. The children’s play area is the “best I’ve ever been on” according to my exuberant 9 year old. The student and children’s sections look impressive. The book store and cafe are inviting. The greeters are friendly without being overbearing. The music and graphics during the worship service were well done. And the sermon was powerful, emotional, biblical, and filled with life-lessons.
The crowd seemed to average in the late 20’s or early 30’s. They were engaged in the sermon but were mostly spectators during the song service. We didn’t know most of the music, so we couldn’t sing along either. I fear this will be a problem as we look for a church. We want a church that is outreach focused. This probably means the music will be more like a concert than a worship service.
Of course, Real Life isn’t perfect. And observations from a single visit are not enough for us to make a commitment to join. One negative I saw that will require more examination was something I saw in their worship folder. It was entitled, “Real Life Fellowship Lifesigns”. It read:
At Real Life we measure LifeChange by these four LifeSigns. If you want to grow make these a part of your life. If you are growing they already are.
1. Attend and invite to services.
2. Connect with others by joining a LifeGroup.
3. Volunteer in one of our many exciting Ministry areas.
4. Invest financially in the vision of Real Life Fellowship.
It’s the fourth “LifeSign” that causes me to do a double-take. I understand that an organized church needs money to function and I admire churches that teach their members to give faithfully. But I have to wonder why giving is one of the top four signs of my growth. What about other signs of spiritual maturity such as . . . oh, let’s see. . . prayer, Bible study, holiness, obedience, loving God, etc.? Why do these take a backseat to investing “financially in the vision of Real Life Fellowship”?
Now, to be fair to Real Life, they do something that I think is absolutely wonderful. Instead of passing the collection plate, they have collection boxes near the doors. People aren’t made to feel guilty by not dropping something in the plate as they pass it down the isle. This is great. I would think that this causes people to go out of their way to give rather than giving out of compulsion. Way to go Real Life.
Real Life continues to be high on our list of possibilities. It is large enough for us to sit in the pews and heal for awhile, but small enough for us to get involved when we’re ready. It seems like a place where God is working.