Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Whirlwind of Churches

Over the last several months my wife and I have had the pleasure of visiting about 15 churches (mostly) in the Dallas area, so I thought I would share some of the things I have learned from this experience. It has been a joy to see how the different people worship and praise the same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Here is a list of the churches we visited in the order that we experienced them.

1. Waxahachie Bible Church
My wife and I consider this our home church. Pastor Bruce Zimmerman is a great preacher and a pastor who dearly cares for people.

2. Fellowship Bible Church Dallas
Amy and I attended here for a few months when we first moved to Dallas. Great worship and preaching. And they meet in a remodeled movie theater, which for some reason is totally cool to me!

3. Highland Baptist Church
We visited this church while they were between pastors. Highland Baptist recently hired a new pastor, but met Pastor Grant Gassiott before he was the pastor and thought he would do a great job in that position.

4. Ennis Bible Church
I was the founding pastor of this church. This church has a promising future and is a fresh alternative to the other wonderful, but more traditional churches in Ennis, Texas.

5. Northwest Bible Church
I heard Pastor Neil Tomba deliver one of the most amazing chapel services I attended during my five years at Dallas Theological Seminary. Northwest has a refreshing blend of tradition and contemporary music. Neil didn't preach the week we visited, but the person who filled-in did an excellent job.
Click here to watch the chapel service.

6. Watermark Community Church
Watermark's service production is very well-done. The music is always top-notch and the preaching is very engaging. Their website is one of the best-looking sites I've come across.

7. The Episcopal Church in Lincoln County
My parents took Amy and me on vacation to Ruidoso, NM. My side of the family is almost all Episcopalian, so while we were out there, we visited this little Episcopal church.

8. Irving Bible Church
I've written several times about Irving Bible Church. Like this post. Or this one by guest blogger, Justin Hentschel. Regardless of what you think about women's roles in ministry, this is a great church that's doing amazing things with an emphasis on the arts, social justice, and firm a commitment to the gospel. I have also started meeting with a group called "Lead Time" from IBC that discusses leadership in ministry. If you're in the Dallas area, come join us Tuesdays at 9:00 am in the Alcove! Lead Time on Facebook.

9. Bent Tree Bible Fellowship
We visited this church because I follow Greg Atkinson's blog. This church is literally in the shadow of the massive Prestonwood Baptist Church (or Prestonworld as it's affectionatly called by the locals), but reaches their community through highly creative communication. When we were there they did a mini-musical to tell the story of the prodigal son and it was tremendous!

10. Rockett Baptist Church
This is the church where my in-laws attend. This is a small-town church where everyone knows each other, but are involved in quite a bit of local outreach. My brothers-in-law (ages 11 and 12) love going to church here! It was great to meet the young and energetic pastor, Cory Mullins.

11. Denton Bible Church
If I could use only one word to describe Denton Bible Church it would be this: Missions. This is the most missions-focused church we've visited. Pastor Tommy Nelson is a great preacher, but the music was surprisingly traditional in style.

12. St. Paul Episcopal Church
This is the church I grew up in as my family is Episcopalian. This church is full of great people and has a very nice traditional service.

13. - Edmond Campus
This is probably the complete opposite of St. Paul Episcopal! LifeChurch's Edmond campus probably had the best production of a worship service I've seen. I was very impressed with how the people responded to Pastor Craig Groeschel's message that was delivered at another campus. He asked people to raise their hands or read along and the people at the Edmond campus responded accordingly. I've never seen a church that uses technology as well as LifeChurch. Check out this video they made discussing church unity.

14. Church of the Holy Apostles
Another Episcopal church for the list! This is the church my aunt and grandmother attend in Fort Worth. Almost all Episcopal services are the same, but the thing that stood out about this church were the stained glass windows which highlighed each of the Apostles along one side of the church and notable saints of old along the other side.

15. One: Twenty One Community Church
This is a smaller church (for the Dallas area) that I would guess has around 1,500 in attendance. We went to this church because I follow Tilling the Soil blog, by Ryan Brymer, who is in charge of hospitality at One: Twenty One. Here's a video highlighting that ministry from Tilling the Soil and One: Twenty One.

16. - Fort Worth Campus
This was our most recent church to visit and while the Ft. Worth campus is surprisingly small (I'm guessing 500-1000 people), but has a huge vision for reaching it's community through creative communication. Here's a service intro video to check out.

Those are the churches we have visited and we have learned quite a bit about different approaches to ministry through this process. If you know of other churches in the Dallas area that I should visit, let me know! I'm always interested in learning more and seeing different types of services!

The next few days I will share some of the things we have learned through this process. I would love to hear your thoughts!


Rachel said...

Reading this, I remember that there are SO MANY churches there. Easily forgotten outside of Texas :). If you're looking to continue your saga, I'm a big fan of Matt Chandler at the Village Church, which seems to be on the fast-track towards a megachurch, despite all their best efforts. Good teaching draws crowds!

Gabe Smith said...

Yeah I heard Matt Chandler speak at a coffee shop talk he did. He told the story of The Village, and it's been an amazing journey for them. I'll have to head over there one of these days.

I also subscribe to his podcast and listen whenever I have a free hour after I take in Radio Lab and my backlogs of TED Talks!

Anonymous said...

Gabe, my name is Mike (votemikejones on twitter). I lead the broadcasting team (lighting, video, etc) at the Edmond Campus of Thank you for your kind words. Often we don't get much outside feedback and it's great to hear we're doing something right!

Reconciled to Pray said...

Gabe, Lance and I went to Waxahachie Bible before going to The Avenue Church (associated closely with Life If you need a full listing of churches (that we're aware of), go to my website at God bless, Laurie Whitlock

Gabe Smith said...

My apologies for not responding to you guys sooner.

Mike, your team at Edmond did a great job, and I can't wait to get back to OKC and visit the Edmond Campus again!

Reconciled to Pray: Thank you for sending me the list of churches in Ellis County. I never realized there were so many! I haven't had the opportunity to visit the Avenue, but I understand they've been in a bit of a transition the past several months. (Dropping that whole "Baptist" thing in the name was a bit of a concern for some members from what I hear, but I think it was a good move."

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