Where should I go today?
Recently, I was in Asheville, NC. I had a retreat commitment at a Baptist church for Saturday night. I had another Baptist regional gathering commitment for Sunday afternoon. This meant I had Sunday morning “free.” I had no commitments to speak or teach or merely be present at any church. But, I am a church geek. I knew I wanted to go somewhere, but where? I decided to try something – think like someone who was looking for a church to attend. I went to Google and typed, “best churches in Asheville NC.” That took me to Yelp. The top church? The Basilica of Saint Lawrence.
Basilica is best
The reviews were mostly about the building, but they sounded awesome. “Only basilica in Western North Carolina -The basilica’s dome is reputed to be the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America.” “What a gorgeous church, it looks like those in Europe.” “…the dome and stained glass artwork are incredible–and definitely worth the visit.” Architecture is not the first thing I think of when looking for a church, but it is important, and with all this enthusiasm, I thought it might be worth the trip. What was number 2? Jubilee Community Church.
Jubilee is jumping
Here, the reviews had nothing to do with the building, but with the people. “Casual and welcoming Sunday services (9:45 & 11:15) and neat events throughout the week. It is not intimidating to come in as a newcomer. It’s just as easy to socialize with new folks as it is to sit and watch everyone else socialize. Great for extroverts and introverts alike!” “The music and the messages are joyous and uplifting. All religious upbringings are honored and many represented in the service and the congregation.”
I went to the websites for both. I checked out the worship times.I looked at my clock. I had just enough time to get to the basilica. And, big bonus – I knew the priest! We served the same community 25 years ago and worked together on several projects. But there was no time to let him know I was coming. I had 15 minutes for what the GPS said was a 10-minute drive. And, I made it!
After the service and a very brief chat with Father Wilber Thomas, I realized I had time to dash a couple of blocks to Jubilee. So, I did!
Different, but good
I will not go into all of my impressions of these two very different expressions of worship. I will say that I found both of them worshipful. The first was more quiet and refined, the second more loud and lively. Both were obviously well prepared. Both, surprisingly, used the same text of John 10, Jesus as the Good Shepherd. I would gladly revisit either place. I would probably not join either place.
For this blog, what I am pondering is this: Were someone to come to my town, how would they find out about my church and about my class? And, if Bible Study classes were reviewed on Yelp, what would someone say about mine? And, what would it take to make the top ten in Yelp reviews?