We were blessed to be with the good folks at Montecito Covenant this weekend. Their generosity gave Kris and me the freedom to wander for most of two days in Santa Barbara and Montecito. I have two words for the church: elegant simplicity.
I’m not an expert on church architecture, but ever since college I find myself being absorbed in how churches embody the gospel in how they make up their sacred space. MCC is a classic example, in my non-artistic categories, of elegant simplicity. There is the simple white and brown patterns with orange tile roofs; there is a fellowship hall that is outside (never seen that); and the sanctuary is studiously simple and elegant all at once. An artistic chancel, I don’t know the term for the altar area but it was evocative for me, and the seating was in a half-circle that made it easy for me to see everyone. There is something wondrously natural about the place — it just fits into the foothills. If you get a chance to get up there, it is just below Westmont.
We were taken by Don Johnson’s infectious enthusiasm, Martha Johnson’s astute observations, and we got to meet Martha’s parents as well. Virginians. We enjoyed the music and the worship, and their young worship leader has a good future. Those of us (like me) who are musically challenged come to rely on the drums and so I missed them.
MCC is committed to developing a missional vision; I can’t tell you how much that excites me.
Highlight: seeing former student and now Professor at Westmont, Bruce Fisk. Westmont is lucky to have him. Learned this weekend that he’s a fine keyboarder too.
I “preached” (if that is what I do) twice and in between we had a rousing conversation (right word) in an open forum SS class about the emerging movement. It is very nice to see churches open classes to becoming informed about this movement that I think shows so much promise for reviving a holistic gospel. Good questions and I think we learned on both sides. Seems like everywhere I go there is the question about when the emerging folks will come up with some kind of doctrinal statement, and I keep coming back to the point that they affirm the orthodox history of the Church, but want to express faith in a praxis sort of way. This won’t take for many.
Here’s a great question I was asked: “How do you find about emerging churches in your area?” My answer was work the blogs. But this is for sure: you won’t find them advertised in the newspaper. At least I hope not.