Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Review of Central Christian Church

Last Sunday I took a vacation day, allowing me and the Mrs. to attend Central Christian Church in Wichita, KS. I've been to Central a couple of times for concerts, but never a Sunday service. So going this past week satisfied a curiosity. Like my review of a previous church in Cincinnati, my observations are based on categories established by Outreach magazine and their "Mystery Visitor" column.

Getting There. Having been there before for concerts, I knew exactly where to go. The website told me it was a non-denominational church. A

First Impressions. Central has a Saturday evening service and 2 on Sundays. We went to the last one at 10:30am. Parking was easy. A greeter welcomed us before we even entered the doors. A

Inside the Church. The congregation was almost entirely Caucasian, although other races were represented in the pews and in the church's choir. Economically, it was mostly middle class, though not exclusively. The sanctuary's design is excellent. A stained glass cross stands above a baptistery. Video screens are on the left and right. The choir loft is elevated in the middle, with an orchestra pit below. Everything you see up front has a roomy feel. Nothing distracts your eye. If I were building a huge worship space, I'd go here for ideas. A

Service Experience. The worship music was outstanding. Peter Abood, Worship & Fine Arts pastor, had everything clicking. We sang mostly contemporary music. The variety of music was really pleasing. The 6 lead worship singers, the choir, the orchestra, Abood on piano, along with drums, synth, lead guitar, and bass were arranged in numerous ways, never the same and always interesting. A couple of people were baptized and the Lord's Supper was celebrated (something they do every weekend). My wife and I loved it all. A+

People Connection. Early in the service, there was a time to turn and greet neighbors seated next to you. It's an ice-breaker that all large churches do, but I've never gotten much out of it. C

The Message. Senior Pastor David Welsh recently succeeded Joe Wright, who was well-known in Wichita. Welsh's topic was, "How long should I pray?" He was personable, humorous, and enjoyable to hear. He recognized the difficult situations we sometimes have, yet reminded us that God never tells us to quit praying about our needs. By persevering in prayer, God shapes our character and transforms our life. Great question answered practically and with insight. A

Spiritual Response. People were invited to the front to pray with an elder or pastor. Rev. Welsh said they would even hang around after the service was completed. People felt free to raise their hands during throughout the worship. I know I was encouraged. A

Visitor Touchpoints. There's a welcome center in the lobby. My wife visited. I didn't. N/R

Return Visit? This is a neat church. Would I come back? Definitely. But oh wait, I'm a pastor and I'll be at my own church this weekend. A

Overall. The whole experience was great. After finally coming to Central on a Sunday, I appreciate how "extra curricular" events like community concerts can serve to welcome people into your church. While we sat closer to the front, I looked back and saw that the sanctuary was only about 1/2 full. That surprised me a little bit. As a contemporary church, Central has a more grown up feel to it than more youthful contemporary services I've attended over the years. But Central has a lot to offer. I appreciate their witness and spiritual leadership in the city of Wichita. A+

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