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Rob Westbrook

Rob Westbrook

Rob Westbrook

Church Tour: Stop 1

June 19, 2007, by Rob, category blog

In the 10 months since we’ve moved back to northeast Mississippi, my family and I have visited some of the newer churches in the area. I enjoy seeing what new churches are doing around this region and how they are being received.  I also like to talk to their pastors and leaders. As we’re in the formative stages of LifePointe, I think it’s a good learning experience to hear them talk about the ups and downs of getting to the point they are now at and where we hope to be in the near future. I also think all my blog readers (both of you) might like to read my reviews of these visits. We’ll start with one nearby.

Yesterday (June 18th) we visited Common Ground Christian Church(edit: the website is no longer at this address. If you have a new address, please let me know). From what I gather, CGCC is a new church formed out of another church in Okolona, MS. The church meets in a new building 5 miles or so from Okolona, at the intersection of HWYs 45 and 278 in Wren, MS, which places them in Monroe County. They have been in this building since November 2006, and previously had met in a barn. I can tell you that the Lord has really blessed them and they have a wonderful facility.

From the highway, the building is a nondescript metal building like so many other metal buildings in the area. But when you walk in, you’re suprised at just how cool the place is. You walk in and there’s a welcome desk there with a really nice lady who will draw you up one fine nametag.  The room that you walk into stretches the width of the building. Comfotable chairs and sofas are scattered around this area. There’s a bar from the kitchen that stretches out into the room and, on Sunday morning, had coffee and Krispy Creme donuts covering it.

Our welcome was great. There was a man who met up at the door, welcoming us there. We then were called up to the welcome desk and received our excellent name tags. From what I could tell everybody had nametags on, so that was cool. We then moved toward the worship center, with people speaking to us from time to time. As we entered the worship center, the band was already playing. The worship center (they may call it something else) was very nice. The chairs we sat in were about three nothces above any pew I’ve yet to sit in. The room was a nice size. My guess is its 75ft long by 50 feet wide, and seating could probably approach 200. There was a very nice stage where the band was playing, and, above it, a nice sized projector screen that I could read easily from about 3 or 4 rows from the back. Sound was good, lighting was good, and the band was good. Mostly acoustic, with a little bit of lead electric guitar, and, get this, a great accordian played by the pastor, David Pannell. I really enjoyed the worship service. It wasn’t over the top showmanship, it was a means of moving the people to worship God. Personally, I’d say they accomplished that goal.

The room was finished with what looked like pine or cypress, below a neutral color painted sheetrock. One of the things I liked the most was that everything from about 12 feet and up was painted flat black. This works really well. It doesn’t reflect the light, so the light falls downward. This black color also seems to keep me from trying to follow the conduit and air conditioning duct work. The floor was stained concrete. Everything looked great. After the service, we were given a tour of the children’s area. There were several small rooms for babies and bathrooms for each gender. In addition, they have a very large room, possibly the size of their worship center. They had a big screen there and it was busy with a Play Station game going when we walked in. I imagine wonderful Super Bowl Sundays with that big kitchen and that big screen.

The service was great. The band was definitely talented. The pastor, David Pannell, did a little percusion work, and even better, the accordian. The acoustic guitar guy played really well, broke out a mandolin once, and sang much like Mac Powell, of Third Day. They played a mix of older choruses and newer ones. It was like an “unplugged” version and it worked.

One of the few doctrinal differences I might see between the Christian Church and LifePointe, a southern baptist church, is communion. They have communion every week and it’s open communion. There was a prayer put up on the screen from The Book on Common Prayer. My family and I participated in the entire communion and it was a meaningful experience for all of us.

David then brought the message. He’s starting a series on the book of Colossians. He used the first 7 or 8 verses for his talk It was a good talk, with audience participation.

After David’s talk the band got back on stage and they had a short invitation When it was over, I looked at my watch. I think we were there for an hour and 15 miutes to maybe an hour and a half.

As we were leaving, they announced that they had set a new attendance record that day, with I think 136 people. We started for the door, but these people are so friendly and fired up about what God is doing in their midst that we spent quite a bit of time talking with David and his wife Susan. We also talked to several others as we headed out. Then another young lady gave us the aforementioned tour of the childrens’ area. They also pointed out some ongoing construction in the big lobby area of the building. They are building a large baptistry into the floor of the lobby, with plenty of room for people to gather round and plenty of windows to let the light in.

My take of Common Ground Christian Church is that are on the cusp of reaching many more for Jesus. They seem to have their priorities together and they seem to be structured for and dedicated to reaching people for Christ. They also seem to be working on a plan to bring these people into real discipleship. David and I had met once before, and in the two brief conversations I’ve had with him, we both are thinking and heading in the same direction.

One more thing I really want to point out is the diversity of ages I saw attending CGCC. I would venture to say that there were just as many over-50s as their were under-50s. I think that speaks volumes. One of the arguments I’ve heard against using more contemporary style music is that the older generations won’t sit through it. I didn’t see anyone leave during the worship time at CGCC. I’ve read where it’s not really the music that draws these older generations to new church. What really draws them is to be in a place of worship where there are signs of life.

Overall, my family and I had a great time at CGCC. I’m sure we would probably disagree on some doctrinal matters. But we weren’t there to argue doctrine. We were there to join other brothers and sisters in worshipping our God, our Lord and Savior. And that’s just what we did.

CGCC will be a good church for LifePointe members to sit down with and learn from. Maybe, at some point in the future, we’ll be able to work that out.

So, what do you think ?


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