O Me of Little Faith

The article on my church-going immersion journalism experiment for Relevant Magazine is now available in the publication’s May/June 2008 issue. The article is called “6 Denominations in 6 Weeks: Diary of an Intentional Church Hopper.” It’s accompanied by a photo of a guy in a white dressing gown (about to be baptized, I guess?) and wearing a bunch of “Hello, my name is…” nametags. The names of the different denominations are scrawled on the nametags.

That guy? Is not me.

But probably everyone will think it is. Let it be known that I am not a messy-haired, brown-bearded, smiley everyman with flip-flop tan lines on my feet. Here are the first two pages of the spread for reference (PDF download). I won’t post the full article until the issue is off newsstands.

I wrote a little about the experience already in this post. Now that the issue is finally available I’ll toss out a few more teasers. Here are some direct quotes from the article…along with the denominational visits that inspired them:

Week 1: United Methodist
The pastor then quotes John Wesley, thus confirming the first of my three Methodist facts. At this rate, I can expect a spiritual awakening by 8:45.

Week 2: Presbyterian
The Methodists prayed “…forgive us our trespasses.” The Presbyterians prayed, “…forgive us our debts.” I wonder if it has anything to do with the expensive cars out front.

Week 3: Southern Baptist
I’m greeted by a Hispanic gentleman sporting a baggy FUBU shirt, gold earrings and heavily tattooed forearms. I’m also greeted by the frail elderly woman in front of me. Friendly and diverse.

Week 4: Roman Catholic
Everyone does this routine — genuflect, cross, kneel, pray — before being seated. Me? I just plop down all Protestant-like. I might as well have been wearing a “Luther is my homeboy” t-shirt.

Week 5: Episcopal
We alternate between Scripture readings, hymns and prayers from the
Book of Common Prayer. It’s a challenge to juggle the worship-order handout, the hymnal and the prayer book. I need a third hand.

Week 6: Assembly of God
The service begins with 20 minutes — yes, 20 minutes — of video announcements emceed by a jokey youth minister who uses the word
awesome so frequently I wonder if maybe he’s being ironic.

For what it’s worth, my favorite service — by far — was the Episcopal service. My least favorite service was the Assembly of God one, with the entertaining-but-in-the-wrong-way Southern Baptist service a very close second.

I won’t assume that everyone here is a subscriber to Relevant, but if you are — and if you’ve read the article — I’d like to open up a dialog about it. Did my experiences with certain denominations (and an admittedly small sample size) match your experience of the same? What did I miss or get wrong? Care to defend or represent a certain denomination? Comment away…

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