What would you expect from a church that calls itself “Soul Revival” and meets in a rented industrial unit? And would it change when you discover it’s really an Anglican church?
I went to just such a church tonight. I know what a mainstream evangelical church looks like. And this one fits that to a T. It probably didn’t help that because it was the first night in the new venue, there were a lot of visitors from their sponsor church. But I’m not fazed by that anymore. One thing I’ve learnt in the last few years is how to attend an event where I know nobody and still manage to mingle a bit. But it did mean the service was probably a little atypical.
What was not atypical, clearly, was the teaching. It was from 1 Corinthians 15 – the famous passage from Paul where he leads up to instructing the church at Corinth about the Last Supper. (Took me years to understand why people would read from that passage. Years. You’d think churches would do better job of teaching their young people that. But I digress.) Here is Paul’s summary of the fact that humankind are sinners and that Christ Jesus died to save us from that.
This is not what I had in mind when I got interested in the possibilities of what “soul revival” might mean.
But what did I have in mind?
I don’t really know. However, I’m getting a better idea of what it is not. (Though not always why not.)
I spoke briefly with one of the pastors. I knew I couldn’t bend his ear for hours, but I was aware that I am not the typical new-comer to his church. I tend to use the phrase “between churches” which is accurate without being unnecessarily precise. I mentioned The Lasting Supper; I mentioned a few authors I’ve been reading, Frank Viola, Brian McLaren. He recognised that last one and said “emergent church”, which is a term I should use a trifle more often. I guess that freed him to be a more theologically descriptive and called Soul Revival an evangelical church. I’ve only just realized he probably meant that as “not-emergent” because he added that it would be difficult to find an emergent church in the area in which I live.
Sadly, I think I agree with him there. The area which I live is not Sydney’s “bible belt” but is a kind of a shadow belt, if you like. Or likely was twenty years ago. It is generally a white, middle-class area and as far as churches go that usually means conservative evangelical.
I think I’ll visit again, but I’m not sure how long or how regularly. It might be nice to have a crazy dream of changing a church from the inside out, but that’s a lot of work.