Sometimes visiting a church can be quite a challenge. Today I set out to visit the Church of Jesus Our Shepherd in Norcross, Georgia, a northern suburb of Atlanta. I looked up the website and clicked on the "get directions" tab and printed out directions to the church. I timed my drive so I would arrive about 10 minutes early, leaving time for traffic or other distractions.
When I arrived at the address, it was an office complex in an old warehouse district -- it was not the hotel where the church meets. It was not even the office of the church. Turns out it was the address of the office many years ago. I called the number listed on the website and it was disconnected! (take note any pastors who may be reading this -- make sure your website is updated!) Fortunately, I remembered that it was meeting in the Hilton in Norcross, but I had no idea where that was. After calling 411, then the hotel, and then after a couple of wrong turns, I arrived 25 minutes late. I almost didn't go in, but I am glad I did.
The Church of Jesus our Shepherd is an Anglican congregation with the Anglican Mission in America. They meet in a hotel and have no plans to build a building. Instead, they want to be able to support missions and start new congregations with their offerings. They proclaim on their bulletin that they are "Spirit-led Anglican Worship" and have "Bible-based preaching, prayer and healing." The service was all of that. When I arrived, the singing could be heard down the hall so I knew exactly where to find them. About 40-50 folks had gathered in a meeting room which had been set up to look like a church. Most of the congregation was in their 60's and 70's although there were a handful of young people present.
The service was a charismatic worship service with Anglican liturgy. It begins with about 30 minutes of praise music and I arrived during the last song. So actually, even though I was late, I didn't miss any of the liturgy! The congregation has an incredibly sweet spirit which was exhibited not only in their worship, but in conversations after the service. The service was 2 hours long and included a sermon by the Rev. Tom Belt. Tom is an old colleague from ministry days about 20 years ago. Much of the liturgy was sung to arrangements by Tom and was quite worshipful.
A couple of quotes from the sermon which spoke loudly....
"God knows all about us; we all need help; we all need healing; we all need direction. And God is hanging in there with us."
"When you fail, when you sin, just keep on coming to Jesus. He has the words of life. He is life."
"Sadly, too often we like what God gives us rather than liking God Himself."
"We like our opinion of who Jesus is rather than what the Bible tells us about who He is."
We had communion as part of the service, and after receiving communion, people were invited to go to one of two prayer teams if they wanted prayer for healing or had other needs. It was a wonderful time of worship, and encouraging to see the vibrancy and confidence the congregation has in the Lord. One surprise for me was the number of people who said, "I heard you on the radio this morning." Evidently, quite of number of these folks listen to A Word from the Lord on the Atlanta station.
One last comment... I was able to see Helen and Tom Boyd. Helen was my senior honor's English teacher in high school over 30 years ago! She has a vibrant and strong faith and witness for the Lord. It was truly a blessing to see her again.