Part one of the church experiment is over. Mind you, it was a hell of a weekend: busy, busy, busy. I am so tired.
But getting back to the topic. We decided on the Oasis Church as the site of our first church experiment. We turned up, with our bible and Miss Dee in tow in her beautiful new outfit. And yes, I will include a picture for your viewing delight as soon as I hit off peak internet usage ;-). I made sure we only got there barely 5 minutes before the service to minimise talk time, and we were off.
My first impressions of the building and surrounds were positive. Modest but modern with a tonne of new technologies, it was most certainly comfortable. There were plenty of children, and younger people in our age demographic.
The service started on a good note with a female worship leader. The music was certainly loud and 'out there': it was a very clappy, happy sort of worship. For me personally, that was neither here nor there. I just went along with it, far be it from me to interrupt their happy ignorance.
And then, oh yes, and then, it got worse. The pastor bounced up the front (and boy, did he bounce), and started.
It began rather well, it was a usual, standard, boring sermon (topic: honour). He began with talking about honouring god, and people in command (ie bosses at work). Ok. He then moved on to children honouring parents. Ok. But wait! Did I just hear right? Yes, he did just say you should always honour your parents regardless of what they have done to you. Justin and I rolled our eyes. Where do I begin with that statement? Well, how would you honour your paedophile father? Please inform me. I am sure it will be an interesting explanation.
And of course, then he started on the husband and wife relationship, a source of great amusement for this particular husband and wife.
He began with the classic nugget: "Many women do not like this verse". And I nearly turned around and began running right there, because I knew what was coming thanks to my biblical knowledge (See mum, all that biblical teaching did come in handy!). According to this pastor, wives should be free to have an opinion...but. Of course, there is a but, and it is a big but. The husbands should have the ultimate decision making right, be the spokesperson and person in authority in the family. Not only that, but he actually said to every woman in the audience that they will be in submission to a man (father or husband) for the rest of their lives. Yep. Sure. Whatever you think (even Justin was strongly disagreeing with him). Least I managed to stay in my goddamned seat.
Once he had finished his somewhat rantish speech (to be frank, I had forgotten how rantish they are once they get going), they had the laying on of hands/conversion call, and the final song. Which was blah, blah, blah.
After the service, it was all about Justin. Sure, I was introduced and said hello to, but ultimately, I was just the arm candy. All the questions were directed at him. Guess what I did? Turned around and answered them anyway!! We were both clear that I was keeping my last name (they all assumed and made a big joke about the initials thing), and that Miss Dee was not our child.
It was interesting to see our reception compared to the other newbie: she was a single mother with 2 kids (as far as I could figure). Whilst yes, she was introduced around etc, she was definitely treated differently to us. We were the well presented family unit, she was not. But ironically, she was the one that went up at the conversion call, so I would imagine, would require more attention of the pastor. Not that it happened, we definitely received more one on one time with him (and all the other elders): or, at least Justin did.
As for Miss Dee, that wonderful girl was extremely patient. Whilst refusing to leave my side (she suddenly became extremely shy), she did join in the singing etc. During the service she drew quietly (yes we were aware Sunday School wasn't on that week, we just wanted to check it all out). I will write another, more in depth, blog entry about her experiences and opinions, because I think she deserves it.
Will we go back? That is debatable: on the one hand, we were made very welcome, the church had a similar demographic, Miss Dee liked the parts she could actually understand, and the worship part of the service was pleasant enough. On the other, the pastor's appalling, ill thought out sermon did make for at best, a very uncomfortable experience and is not the sort of environment I was looking for Miss Dee.
Mind you, I did find it deeply ironic that the very thing I was most concerned about was brought up in the first sermon.