When you go to a city hundreds of miles away, somehow you expect church to be different. In some way different in more than just scenery. We didn't see that today. I think it reinforces that all Christians worship and serve the same God and read the same Bible. Sure, the paint color and style of the seats change, but the worship experience isn't that much different when you go to another church with the same denomination.
Since Charles River Church (CRC) meets at a school, everything must be set up and torn down before and after the service. The projector, speakers, music instruments, cabling, banners, coffee, Bibles, connection cards. Everything.
As the seating is wooden, and kids being kids, many of the chairs backs have names and graffiti on them. That has to be cleaned off (or as best as we can). That was a bit of a wake-up call: we are in unchurched territory. The church building is a school that is full of unchurched kids every day of the week. Transforming the space into a place of worship takes work, sweat, and time.
We put up black drapes to make the auditorium feel less empty. Signs are placed at the entrance indicating where to sign children up. Coffee and doughnuts are placed for those who need a pick-me-up. Bibles are prominently placed for those who don't have Bibles. Everything is placed out with meticulous care—I saw each table get tweaked multiple times. It makes me appreciate our own place of worship more. It makes me wonder if we put as much time and effort into the details each Sunday morning at Eastside.
After the sermon, we rearrange the auditorium for Kid's Adventure Week (KAW). We also begin setting up the classrooms to be ready for each group Monday morning.
For lunch, we drive to the house of Ryan, one of the associate pastors at CRC. We eat grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, with vegetables bought from the Farmer's Market yesterday. We also have cake, as it is Joel's birthday. The kids insisted on singing Happy Birthday several times throughout the day.
Back at the hotel, the kids get a bit more pool time. They also begin to learn a new card game. There's lots of rest today, but the next four days we will be hard at work with KAW and other projects.
We drive over to share dinner at a government housing project CRC has partnered with. CRC has had God open huge doors to minister to the community. The housing complex was so appreciative of CRC's efforts, they offered free office space and complete access to the entire facility. Hearing from Pastor Josh about the stories and work God is doing in this community is amazing. Lives are being changed here—often by simply being there.
Something should be said about this particular housing project. It doesn't look like low-income housing. It looks like something you would see in Atlantic Station or similar. We might look down upon this for political reasons, but that would miss the point of why we're here: we're here to spread the Gospel and not to criticize what their houses looks like, good or bad. It really is all about Jesus. Nothing else matters in comparison.
The group finishes up the evening with a KAW meeting, covering details of registration, group organization, and assignments. We encourage one another as we confess our worries and concerns. With full stomachs, we come away with a contented and prepared attitude. The van ride back to the hotel is quiet.
KAW starts early tomorrow and we're prepared.
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Eastside Baptist Church
2450 Lower Roswell Rd.
Marietta, GA 30068
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