Field Report: Lancaster Baptist Church Christmas Service

Brother ApatheticOrWhatever was kind enough to travel all the way to Lancaster Baptist Church this Christmas to bring us a report of the goings on there during their Sunday service.

Suit? Check.
White shirt? Check.
Out of style tie? Check.
KJV? Uncheck. I couldn’t seem to find one so I had to grab another version off my shelf.

Other than the Bible faux-pas I am perfectly disguised as a fundy. Since my Bible is in a cover there is little chance that my cover will be blown. I am ready to enter the heart of California fundydom-Lancaster Baptist Church.

I arrive barely in time due to a GPS that actively plots against me. I had a bit of trouble finding a parking space. Eventually a man directing traffic directed me to park in the area reserved for senior citizens. The service is scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM. No Sunday School or evening service is scheduled.

First impressions: Wow! This place is like Grand Central Station at rush hour. I have a hard time squeezing through. Why is it whenever there is a crowd of people trying to reach a doorway there is always some oblivious muggins who will stand in said doorway and have a conversation with their equally oblivious friends?

I am wished Merry Christmas between 8 and 10 times before I find the restroom. I am offered a bulletin 3 or 4 times. People stop me and shake my hand and welcome me to the service.

An usher offers to help me find a seat and I accept his help. The auditorium at service time:

The auditorium is decorated for Christmas. A large, wrapped box is set on the platform behind the pulpit. There are trees and wreaths everywhere.

The service:

Opening hymn: Joy to the World. Lancaster projects the hymns onto large screens.

Special music: 8 boys and 8 girls of about ten years of age file onto the platform. Each of them holds a separate microphone. They each hold it in their right hand. Each one holds it at the exact same angle while their left arm hangs unmoving at their sides. I am distracted by this and forget to write the song name down.

Time to greet the visitors! We are instructed to turn around and wish someone we don’t know “Merry Christmas”. Dutifully I turn around and for the first time notice that my old fundy Mog from TN is seated two rows behind me. My cover is blown! He looked as happy to see me as I was to see him. The rest of the greeting time was taken up with awkward small talk. “Fancy seeing you out here” & “How long are you staying?” etc.

Another special: Teenagers this time. 13 of them and they all hold their microphones in their right hands and keep their left arms rigid at their sides. The song is called “Distant Voice”. I had never heard it before.

Time for the next hymn: “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” (a carol of unimpeachable Biblicalness) We make it through the first verse okay but on the second verse things derail. The verse on the screens is very different from what the director is singing. He stops and laughs about the mix-up. He tells us to grab a hymnal and to turn to page 172. He starts off singing the second verse again while we in the audience stare blankly at whichever hymn was written on page 172. The director realizes that he got the page number out of a different hymnbook. He then asks for someone to shout out the correct page number. Instead someone shouts out “That song isn’t in this hymnbook”. To his credit the director laughs and says “Well I guess this has been pretty much a trainwreck”.

We are then instructed to fill out the Visitor/Members Card. Visitors are told to include whatever information we feel comfortable sharing. I opt for Name and City. Strangely, members are all instructed to fill one out as well. They are told to just write their name.

Another special. This time it is a young men’s quartet. Of course they hold the microphones in what I presume must be the only way allowed in the church bylaws. “It Is About the Cross”. I miss the message of the song because I am wondering whether I should even take notes since I am left-handed. Perhaps I will be escorted from the premises under armed guard.

Video: They show a short video telling the Christmas story. It paraphrases Bible verses as part of the flow of the story. However, the verses sound strangely non-KJV as a result.

The Main Event: (I only wish I were ringside instead of in the cheap seats)

Preacher: Paul Chappell.

Text: Luke 2:1-7. (Of course)
Theme of the message: Joy at Christmas

I. Joy in His Providence.
A. He Originated History.
Isaiah 7:14, Proverbs 21:1
a. He Prophesied.
b. He Performed. I Timothy 3:16, I Peter 1:9-11
B. He Orquestrated History.
Quote: History is His-story!
Jeremiah 1:12
1. Political Structures.
Some jokes about paying taxes. Apparently leaves his notes and starts talking about Caesar Augustus. Says that Caesar Augustus was the son of Octavian Caesar. (No. They are the same person) He puts a map up on the screen of ‘The Holy Land in the time of Christ’. Oddly, the modern country of Jordan is clearly marked on the map.Chappell seems to realize that he is rearranging Roman and Middle-Eastern history and decides to return to the beaten path.
2. Perplexing Problems.
Romans 8:28.

(My hand is already cramping)(I had surgery recently and I am starting to be in pain so I pop a pain pill)

II. Joy In His Presence.

A. The Place Was Determined. John 6:32-35
Joke: Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Because that is where his mother was!
B. The Saviour Was Delivered. (Yes, KJV spelling was used)
I John 4:9
More Jokes: Why were the first gifts not wrapped? Because the givers were wise and they were men!
Shows photo of a manger.
Yet Another Joke: Tells about a little boy who asks if he can be the lion in the Nativity play. When asked why he responds “You know, the lion (lying) in the manger”.

(At this point the kindly gentleman beside me leans over and points out that the entire sermon outline is included in the bulletin. Boy do I feel stupid.)

What follows is a weird addition. It seems like it was dropped in at the last minute. It doesn’t seem to naturally fit into the sermon. In the bulletin it is a shaded box that sets it apart from the rest of the sermon.

There Was No Room For Him in the Inn.

The Material Man Has No Room.
Mark 8:36
References the War on Christmas.
The Intellectual Man Has No Room.
I Corinthians 1:18-19
The Religious Man Has No Room.
John 1:10-12

Time for a fish story: Years ago (in a galaxy far, far away) Chappell went out ‘door-knocking’ (That phrase could be mistaken for a euphemism). He met a very religious lady who believed very strongly in the works that her false church taught. (He never says which false church) He climbs up on the staircase and tells her to imagine the building were on fire and asks her how he could be saved from the flames. She responds that she would have to jump. The story ends with her being saved and the audience gives the obligatory ‘Amen’ upon hearing this. How this actually happens must have been edited out.

(FYI prescription narcotics make fundydom much more entertaining but even less intelligible than normal)

III. Joy in His Provision.

A. A Personal Presentation. Romans 1:3, Philippians 2:5-8
Quote: “The life of our Lord is marked by the Virgin’s womb and the empty tomb. He came into the world through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through one marked ‘No Exit’!
(Other than making Jesus sound like a boor who disregards signs I am not sure what this means) (I find this quote vaguely creepy but I can’t quite put my finger on why)

B. A Spiritual Presentation. Romans 1:4, Colossians 2:9, Luke 1:32
Quote: “Christmas is not about presents but about His presence”

Conclusion:
Salvation appeal. Talks about Black Friday and people hurting and stabbing each other over shoes. Quote “A few years ago people were stabbing each other over Cabbage Patch dolls”. (Breaking News: Sting just left The Police)

Stand. Bow head. Close eyes. (I don’t think the order matters but I always do it in the order commanded)

Invitation song: ‘Have Your Way Lord’

Two people were baptized.

Video about upcoming attractions. I start plotting how I am going to avoid talking to my old Mog.

Dismissed. I see my Mog is climbing over people to exit his pew on the other aisle from me. For once, he and I agree on something; not talking makes us both happier.

Since I am a first-time visitor I am entitled to some swag. I am given a book written by the pastor. “Christmas is a Gift”. I also am given a pre-printed “personal invitation” to keep attending.

I walk to my car. A brass ensemble is out on the sidewalk playing Christmas carols. I stop and listen for a moment. It almost seems normal.

~ Apathetic or whatever.

103 thoughts on “Field Report: Lancaster Baptist Church Christmas Service”

    1. Apathetic, I salute you for giving up your Christmas or Christmas Eve to attend this when you could have attended any number of milder services. The message alone with the alliteration makes me twitch. Somehow I feel like I’ve heard this exact message before, particularly the point about “There was no room for him in the inn.” I am pretty sure that all of these fundy pastors just recycle each other’s sermons every time they meet up at a conference.

      1. The “no room for him in the inn” bit dates back to Spurgeon (just do a google search with that title and his name). Although it is quite possible that Spurgeon was inspired by an even earlier author.

  1. Organized Religion
    Here’s our plan and we’re sticking to it.
    Lot of talk about God and the Bible but as AOW so aptly shows… it can all be reduced down to a scripted performance. Come back next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

    1. When he got to the part about the rigid left arms hanging down and the microphones in the same position, I began having horrific flashbacks to HAC and FBC Hammond. Oh, AOW! You are a true giant of strength!!!
      Of course, the part that said you saw your former MOG had me nearly dying laughing, though I DID feel very sorry for you! But I mean! WHAT WERE THE ODDS????

      1. Odds? That would mean gambling. Gambling’s a sin and when you get to heaven they won’t let you in.

        But seriously, if you want to beat the odds go to the bar at the movie theater.

    1. Just reading all his versions of nightmares reminds me of when I was just getting out of the IFB movement and all the mental and emotional stress that was working its way out of me through nightmares. I never have them anymore. I feel bad for him.

  2. Quite entertaining sir! I thoroughly enjoyed your pain! πŸ™‚

    I’m shocked there wasn’t a “born to die” reference. I hear it every single Christmas, and I just want to scream “do you people even read the Bible”?

    1. ayup! in fact I did hear it during this “season” this year again, it hasn’t gotten any better, especially since this concept seemed to form the basis of the 10 meter platform that the rest of the service jumped off into a cesspool of unconnected rubbish that seemed to have nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with what the angry dolphin preaches every week related to him being right and all others being worthy of damnation (my pet name for the Mog has some very non-fundy connotations, don’t look it up in the Urban Dictionary if you are at work – those IT guys notice when you bang up against the symantec gateway you know)

  3. Hurrah for ApatheticOrWhatever for spending part of his Christmas to do a SFL field report!
    And the narcotics comment made me chortle. πŸ˜‰ Very well-written, sir. And that’s coming from a creative writing graduate–I know my stuff.

    Humor aside…I feel sad for them. πŸ™ Members having to fill out “church cards”…*twitch* Still a fresh trigger for me. πŸ‘Ώ

    1. I was thinking what a stupid waste of tithe-payer money, to have members fill out those cards with just their name. It must be their way of keeping track of who was there and who wasn’t. Someone must fill out an attendance sheet on them to make sure they’re following all of their obligations they have to meet to teach Sunday school, work in the bus ministry, interpret for the deaf, etc etc, work any ministry in the church. Every now and then they have a performance review: We see that on such and such a date you missed church, (or missed filling out a card) why were you absent on that day? In this they become no different than your job. At least they’re paying you to endure such nonsense on the job but the fundy church where you are doing them a favor to work in their ministries treat you as though they’re doing you a favor to let you work in that ministry. It just irks me no end! πŸ‘Ώ

      1. We were always told to go forward during the altar call/invitation so visitors would do so also and we would be able to pray with them. Who in the world would want to sit alone in the pew while everyone else was up front praying?

        It’s the same theory, possibly, for the visitation cards. If everyone fills one out then there the visitor will feel more at ease giving out their personal info if everyone else is doing it.

        Coercion. I hate it.

        1. Been there; heard the same thing. It wasn’t “go forward if God speaks to you”, but “Go forward to encourage the pastor that it was a good message” and “Go forward to get the visitors (unsaved) to come forward as well”… It’s so sad to see a church that doesn’t believe that the Holy Spirit can convict a person – they have to use manipulative techniques. This practice is surely an abomination to the Lord.

      2. Isn’t this something that Rick Warren suggests to do in The Purpose Driven Church? He says every one fills one out and that does not make the visitor feel alone.
        Thought of that as soon as I read it and how interesting that people like Chappell would do the same thing. Wonder where he got it from?

        1. In my Church of Christ, we do offer an invitation for people that want to be baptized or for people that want to ask for prayers. A few years ago, we stopped publicly announcing prayer requests for those that did go forward (unless the person has asked that the request be announced). Instead, the person can pray with an elder.

          One thing I *do* like about what we do is that if someone goes forward asking for prayers, there is a good chance that others will come down and sit with them in order to give them support. I’ve done that for people a few times.

          Doing it for show, however, is another story.

        2. I have stated elsewhere that I refuse to go to an altar anymore, but when I did, if someone came to join me, I hated it.

    2. As a newly-graduated staff member at PCC, I remember being mortified when I was called up to an Assistant Pastor’s office. They said they only had Sunday School attendance slips for something like 5 out of the last 10 Sundays. I had actually been there, but the attendance slips didn’t always make it all the way around the room and I didn’t figure it was a big deal. I was embarresed then, now I wonder why I didn’t run away sooner.

      1. As a grad student, not only did you have to fill out SS attendance slips, you also had to fill out an attendance card that went to the grad offices once a month. After I got called up to the office for not having filled out SS slips, I just started writing in that I went home or out of town very weekend on the slip whether I had or not. One small bit of rebellion that made me feel great. Haha

  4. What a great way for the pastor to increase book sales: Have the church buy copies to give out to every visitor. It’s either that or someone cleaned out his mom’s house and found 16 boxes of the same book in the basement and has to unload them some way!

    1. ^^^ Yes, this. Also, have the church volunteers help with it, use the church’s publishing company and websites to publish and advertise, and make your ~800 college students buy copies.

  5. Wow, this does bring back some memories for me…

    FWIW, I think it’s not too uncommon these days for everyone (members included) to be asked to fill out the attendance cards. My current church is decidedly not fundamentalist, but we do that as a way of keeping track of folks. When a regular attender doesn’t show up for several weeks in a row, and we already know they aren’t sick/traveling/dead/etc. then the pastor or someone from the hospitality team can call and check in to make sure everything’s alright. Sometimes folks have a personal crisis and don’t reach out to the church, or something happens in the church that hurts them and they just leave, so either way this gives them an opportunity to tell us what’s going on. I’m sure that this type of system is very likely used as a punishment tool in abusive churches, but when it’s done well it’s actually quite life-giving. I’ve had my turn being the one to contact folks who don’t show up and often they appreciate that someone noticed they weren’t around, and the opportunity to explain why.

    1. Parents of students at Lancaster Baptist’s k-12 school are required to “three to thrive”. If they missed a service, they would get letters sent to their house. Lancaster Baptist tracks everything…When I was a member, volunteer workers at the church were required to fill out “activity forms” weekly stating how many doors they knocked on that week, phone calls made to their class, cards sent out, etc. This turned my service for the Lord into a service for man – since I knew my works were constantly being evaluated.

      I have decided to never fill out such forms for a church again.

      1. I agree that this practice is sad, but it is very common in IFB circles; FBCH does this, as does Longview Baptist Temple (under Bob Gray, Sr). So do a host of smaller churches that follow them.

        The purpose seems to be to manipulate, er, encourage people to do the activities the church demands. No one likes to disappoint others… at a former church, if you had too many of these filled out with zeroes or not turned in, a staff member would have a talk with you. The staff member who accosted me claimed that they just wanted their records to be complete (I didn’t believe that for a second)… so I told him to assume I had done nothing; and that I would turn in such a report if I had anything to report. That kind of stopped him, since to carry on would be to admit that the reports were not for “record-keeping purposes”.

      2. As a parent of a child that has attended LBS since 2005 and has children that continue to attend the school I can guarantee you that we have never in the past 10 years received any type of correspondence from the church or school regarding missing church days, that sounds ridiculous to me, we all have lives and everyone misses church days. We have also never been required to fill out any type of “activity forms” or other such “tracking” paperwork so I also find that odd and we have always been involved in many ministries at the church. Your service to the Lord should always be for Him and not man, if at some point you felt that way you should evaluate why are you doing your works, if it’s for the Lord then ultimately it doesn’t matter who evaluates you of anything because your service is for the Lord to judge and not man. It’s sad to know that you were turned off of serving the Lord because you felt you were being “tracked” by someone. Not sure why you were being asked to fill out any type of sheets, we never have. We’ve always been happy in our service attendance here and never feel pressured into anything, we are as involved as we want to be or not.

    2. My previous fundy church posted deacons at the doors of the auditorium, holding clipboards, to mark off the teachers in the associated Christian school when they came in. After we left that church, we visited another church that had a clipboard at the end of each pew, for all regulars to sign in with. I have never run out of any building so fast.

      1. ugh, I can’t imagine trying to worship in a place feeling like you’re being *monitored* so closely. I spent some time in a fundy church, but was mercifully spared in this particular area as that church did not track worship attendance.

        1. Who is monitoring who? I find it interesting that someone feels the need to go undercover and investigate another church, then publicize his findings on the internet. I am not in any way connected to Lancaster Baptist Church, but I feel there is an underlying spirit of criticism. In other words, I will disguise myself and go find some dirt on this church. Pretty sad if you ask me

    3. The “please fill out this card” in a church setting still gives me fundy twitches. To many years of pseudo concerned comments “We missed you 2 out of those 5 evangelistic services (you’re throwing off the inflated count, and believe me we noticed) , you missed some really great preaching (the sermons were aimed at you).” *shudder* yep, don’t miss that kind of judgmental scrutiny at all.

  6. Twitch…twitch…twitch

    My old fundy church for almost 15 years.

    Twitch…twitch…twitch

    Since they are so techno-obsessed, I am surprised they have not done away with the written cards for members to fill out and just started having them scan a card when the enter the church – just to better track them. πŸ™„

    They must have done their traditional “Gifts for Jesus’ Birthday” during a different service. This is when we were encouraged to buy stuff the church needed (a list was provided for our convenience)and bring it to the “altar” during a public procession.

    Chappell’s messages…Well, ApatheticorWhatever taught me something important today. It would have helped me sit through those services better had I been drugged. Live and learn.

    1. When we joined the gym we got this doohickey thing to put on our key rings and we have to run that through a scan thing every time we come. I guess that’s how they know when you’re coming, though there is no limit on how often we can come. If they had such a system in churches members could “sign in” that way. But the whole thing just bugs me, going to church shouldn’t be obligatory anyway, to the church, God knows and sees if you were there or not. He knows why you weren’t there. No one else ought to be poking their nose into others’ business. πŸ™„

      1. No one else ought to be poking their nose into others’ business.

        Maybe that depends on what type of community is created in the church. If it’s a typical fundy church where they’re heirarchical and rules based and any expression of ostensible concern is *really* just chastising for being gone, then yeah, none of their business and they should keep their nose out of it. But in some cases, church communities become supportive and intimate, just like any other community can become. If a regular team member stops showing up for practice, or a book club member stops showing up to meetings, it’s normal for someone to worry and give a call to check on things. One of the reasons I ultimately left my fundamentalists beliefs behind was precisely because I slipped into a depression after my mom died and one of the symptoms was that I stopped attending both church and a college fellowship I was regularly involved with. Neither one ever reached out to me in any way to find out why I wasn’t coming anymore, and that hurt more than I expected it to. Ultimately, it was a blessing though, because I am SO glad I managed to break ties with fundamentalism so easily.

        I appreciate this thread because I’m learning that others have had the opposite experience, where they were hounded when they didn’t want to be.

        1. But – if it’s a genuinely close community where people care for each other, a person’s friends will NOTICE when they’re missing. Because they won’t see each other! And they’ll have contact on days when they aren’t at church! Why the need for clipboards if the relationships are genuine???

        2. Then there was the unexpected knock on your door on either Tuesday or Saturday (scheduled MANDATED soulwinning and visitation times). Pastors, staff, teachers and volunteer helpers just doing their Sunday school class calling…

          “Wondering where you have been lately. Miss you!”

          Funny, but after we left we found out very few actually missed us (for real). I have been known to say the love there is a mile wide but only an inch deep. The church mailed us tithing envelopes right before their annual building banquet…even though we left months earlier…that made us feel missed and loved (not!). πŸ™„

        3. Yeah, I’m feeling that at the moment. It’s just been Christmas and I got ONE txt. These people claimed to love me. They were lying.

        4. Eeeexactly. We left our fundy church about 9 months ago and the week before Christmas, someone asked my MIL (who still attends there) if I was in church that day because they had a question for me. When informed that I hadn’t been there since April, there was apparently great embarrassment on the member’s part. I, however, felt a big hurt … it was the first person to ask about us since we left and it took 8 months?! Thankfully, we’re really loving our little Bible church that really does love it’s fellow family members.

        5. I know what you mean, Kaje. My husband didn’t attend church for 3 years while I kept going and was involved in many ministries. No one asked about him or anything. I sat alone all that time. No one came to see him or anything, even the one deacon who’d been his friend before this. I know the reason why too. We were low income and though I was serving a lot I wasn’t able to give much. I was very disgusted with the church for this. The pastor was a money grubber who always showed great respect to those in the church who had money. I knew that if we came into money he’d have been on our doorstep immediately.

          Why did I stay so long? Eventually he came back on his own and soon that pastor was gone. πŸ‘Ώ

      2. Maybe they could put them in the KJV Bibles so when your Bible went past the scanner they would know that you were there. Of course, that would be easy to cheat. You could send your Bible to church with someone else. (Not that anyone would be willing to risk losing their salvation to help you get away with skipping church.

  7. I don’t know if anyone would consider Rick Warren a funnymental or not, but many IFB churches now use those attendance cards because they read his book, The Purpose Driven Church, and he advocates using them. Of course the chapters on music and dress standards are ignored completely.
    I went to a Bible College in Florida that required us to fill out Activity Reports every Monday in chapel. I accumulated many demerits because I played the piano for chapel and usually forgot to fill one out. I also traveled every weekend with the college singing group, so missed Saturday bus visitation. I worked Monday through Friday night, so could not go visiting on Thursday night visitation either. I usually kept nearly the maximum amount of demerits allowable before being kicked out. I have to admit, though I am a conservative Bible believer, I have never agreed with nor liked the way most independent Baptist colleges and the churches connected to them have reduced Christianity to a performance based religion. I have heard of another Bible college that requires the students to put down on their Activity Report how many hours they spent praying and reading the Bible–how pathetic!
    I enjoy reading SFL occasionally, because I have been associated with IFB churches all my life.

    1. As a past staff member at Warren’s Saddleback Church I can attest to that although it wasn’t really pushed much unless Rick was asking people to answer a specific question relating to the message, i.e. how it related to them and was often said just to put an A, B or C on the card without your name. Other times it was used to sign up as a volunteer but most used specifically for visitors and members prayer requests which WERE prayed for. It was never used to “keep the role”. LOL They were more concerned people went to small groups than church anyway.

    2. Andrew! I’m calling you on your fundy creds! No true IFBer would consider Rick Warren anything less than a compromising, ecumenical, dangerous liberal. I’ve heard derision heaped on him and his books constantly.

      Several years ago, my husband asked the church treasurer to buy “A Purpose-Driven Life” for one of our adult Sunday School classes. She refused to buy it; she thought it was “wrong.” My husband had to go out and buy the books himself.

      1. My last meeting with my MOG was over Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” One week he commented positively about something in the book, the following Sunday, after some of the “legalists” got ahold of him and told him how bad Warren was, he recanted his positive statement from the previous week and went on to talk about how we had to be so careful about such men, and I felt he slandered Warren, so I set up an appointment to see the MOG. I had a couple of places marked in Warren’s book, and we had barely gotten started when he wanted to know if I studied and marked up my bible as much as I did Warren’s book, I realized right then and there this meeting was going nowhere. We eventually had anti-Warren tracts placed on our tract rack in back of the sanctuary, seriously.

        Why did it take me so long to leave?

  8. This is the same church that requires all their K-12 students to provide the school administration with their facebook passwords so they can monitor their online conversations.

    If you question this policy the standard response (from those who support it) is: I have nothing to hide! But there are people who believe they are engaging in a private discussion with a student, and are unaware they are being monitored. Very invasive.

    Regulating a child/teen’s online activities is the job of the parent, not a church or school.

  9. Whoa!

    What is that baby doing in the main service? Babies belong in the nursery, dontchaknow. Probably a visiting family…

    If that baby started making any noise Chappell would have publicly asked an usher to ‘help him with that situation’… πŸ‘Ώ

  10. My wife saw the picture and thinks the woman may have been breastfeeding! If you notice, the baby carrier is turned in such a way as to shield her from view to her right. Does it look like that to anyone else?

    1. I thought that at first as well. But on second look, the baby’s head is too high. Also, there is no blanket draped oh-so-subtly over the shoulder to indicate to well-meaning strangers NOT to look too closely.

  11. If this was a Christmas Day service, I guess these people have nothing better to do. I guess it’s just too worldly to spend Christmas day with family. My son came in from a fundy Bible College to spend Christmas here, but I only got to see him for a few minutes between services at the church he attends. Sad, but true, he doesn’t come home to visit with his mom (me). He even told me I needed to be in church, especially at Christmas. I have my own church I attend and we didn’t have services this day. I realize God is important, but geesh, it just won’t hurt to miss once in a while (or will I go to hell just saying that?)

        1. Even if he’s playing around, that’s just not appropriate. You don’t make jokes when someone’s been genuinely hurt πŸ‘Ώ

    1. I hated that our church had services on Christmas. While I can see a point that Christmas is about Christ, I guarantee that the entire church was there begrudgingly, so how can that be good? Celebrating with our families at home could actually be more Christ-honoring than methodically playing church. This also reminds me of our family vacation with my husband’s family a few years ago. My inlaws decided that we could all just have a time together of Bible study on Sunday morning instead of trying to obligatorily find a church to visit. My husband’s brother insisted on taking his family to church on his own. So the rest of us prayed and read the Bible together as a family, then spent the rest of the morning enjoying God’s creation on the beach. πŸ˜€

    1. I’ve only been to Lancaster once but I don’t remember there being a lot of food options for steak in the area. I know there’s a Marie Calendar, a Mexican restaurant, and a Wal-Mart.

      1. There are chain steakhouses such as Black Angus (West Lancaster) and Outback (Palmdale)…neither of which are on the east side of Lancaster. East side Lancaster is a high crime area anyway, so you would be better off going to Palmdale anyway.

  12. I am sort of surprised LBC chose the “slippery slope of compromise” and cancelled their Sunday evening service on Christmas Day. Unless I am mistaken, in the past there used to be an evening service when Christmas fell on a Sunday.

    Just thought that was interesting.

  13. “No Sunday School or evening service is scheduled.”
    “Lancaster projects the hymns onto large screens.”

    Well, those heathen Californians are not as spiritual as my midwestern fundy church, I’m happy to say. Our MOG cancelled only Sunday School, but insisted upon holding an evening service. And, it will be a cold day in Hades before hymns are ever projected onto a SCREEN! :mrgreen:

      1. Yes, Cloud does criticize them for their use of “sanitized” CCM. However, Lancaster does make their members (those who attend the schools or serve in any paid or volunteer position) adhere to many restrictions on music. No music with a rock beat, Christian or otherwise is permitted. They believe it actually harms you spiritually, which is crazy and they have no biblical support for it whatsoever.

        1. What’s funny is that I have heard many criticisms about West Coast music being too “worldly.” The assistant pastor at my old (fundy-lite) church was criticized by the other assistant pastor for promoting their worldly music. My wife went to the school there for a year and was criticized by her (BJ grad) youth pastor for listening to their “boogie-woogie” music. Yes, that’s what he called it.

          Part of me likes West Coast just for the reason that the music there makes the stuffy music-nazis upset.

    1. I was surprised when I visited WCBC to see that they projected their hymns onto screens. But it does seem to be the current trend. My fundy church followed suit. I’ve gotten used to not using hymnals anymore at the non-fundy churches I’ve been to, but I’ll admit I miss reading from old-fashioned hymnals. (I can’t believe I just said “old-fashioned” in a positive context.)

  14. Wow! just wow! I was there that morning with my family. I have developed the habit of not taking notes because the alliteration drives me nuts! We have noticed a much more relaxed atmosphere since we arrived several years ago; although we are the ones who NEVER sign in, nor fill anything out. I think the higher-ups know we are not sheeple so they pretty much leave us alone.

    Still…wish it weren’t so IFB. I absolutely love the music, the full orchestra is beautiful.

    1. The dept directors used to have to give a report during Sunday night’s “Visit With the Pastor” time (perhaps they still do this), so if we did not fill out our visitation form the director would be asking us for the data. He wanted to give impressive numbers, you know!

      Having been involved with music, I appreciate the love for it…but good doctrine trumps music.

      1. I haven’t heard a public report during the Visit with the Pastor time, but I have heard stories of how bad it used to be. Perhaps the trials of the past few years have opened PC eyes to what is really important.

        Whenever we hear something a little “off” we discuss it right away with our kids, teaching them to look to Scripture as their authority, not a man. I just have to trust the Holy Spirit to give them insight.

        1. They stopped the public dept. reports? Do the volunteers still have to fill out the activity form (number of doors knocked on, cards sent, etc.)?

          We were having to “re-teach” our kids often, especially when the Sunday school giving contests were happening. Those were so bad.

          Oh man…it is almost banquet season again. You have my condolences.

        2. “but I have heard stories of how bad it used to be. Perhaps the trials of the past few years have opened PC eyes to what is really important.”

          I have been thinking out this ^^^.

          Chappell still has a long way to go to stop the legalism he infected LBC with. If he realizes he has made a mistake on something (Weekly public dept activity reports, for example) the right thing to do would be to tell the entire congregation that the practice was wrong, why it was wrong, and that it is being changed. An apology for the error would also help. Just sort of quietly changing procedures reflects pride and is an attempt to continue the “pastor is always right” attitude that permeates that place.

          It would make me happy if Chappell stopped teaching and practicing abusive legalism and works sanctification…But his teaching, policies, and actions show he is still quite entrenched in it.

        3. The problem I see with staying in a church where you know you are getting some false teaching, but teaching your kids to adjust (and I could be wrong, but) is that SO MUCH of what kids learn is learned through wordless teaching of actions and surroundings. There is really no way to catch ALL the manipulation and misdirections your kids are getting. I am saying this as an adult who used to be a kid in a church like that. It made me who I am today and even though I DO (now) interpret everything I hear through Scripture, I am still quite confused about a lot of things and really have no faith in my own ability to figure it out. All that was from the subtle manipulation of “You could never possibly be right unless you agree with the man in the pulpit.” I am not saying this in any way to sound like I know better than you do what is best for your children, only as an observation. I hope you can get out, but I also know how complicated that can be. Especially if one or both of you actually WORK for the church. Then it is almost impossible to walk away without reprocussions. I wish you the best though. It isn’t impossible, it is just really difficult.

        4. I really appreciate your comments. Leaving is easier said than done. We are not on staff, for which I am so very thankful! We are free to think, talk, and wear what we want. Our children are older so it’s easier to discuss with them the right and wrong of situations, for instance, just the other day we had a conversation about tithing. I told them, it’s not Biblically based, they were shocked that I would say that, but had a good discussion and they agreed with me. I ended by saying no one should be manipulated to give. And now we will hear about giving for the next three months!!! ugh.

    1. Since they combined their two services into one, I can understand why the place would be packed on Christmas morning. But is the balcony closed off on typical Sunday mornings too? Even with the college in session?

    1. Yup. Paul Chappell proudly received his fake doctorate from the renown pedophile himself, Bob Gray (FL). Why he desires to keep that affiliation is beyond my comprehension.

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