It’s been over a year since my last visit to this place. I have very fond memories of my time here. First shock was that there were fewer rows of chairs set out in the sanctuary, by a little less than half. I remember that we rarely filled all the rows when I was last here. But I guess, over the past year the empty seats had gotten to the point where fewer rows of seats made sense. That’s kind of sad. I wasn’t here back in the “hey day,” but I had a definite impression that the attendance and community was a much smaller shell of its former self. Having gone through what I’ve just experienced w/ the Long Beach Vineyard, I’m probably overly sensitive to an ever shrinking universe. My brother joked when I told him four years ago that I was going to a vineyard, “Oh, I heard they were closing churches” (the local vineyard having just sold its property to the Mission Viejo Calvary Chapel). Ack.
The next thing that got me was that the worship band, the band that I had missed so badly these past months, was reduced to keys, drums and acoustic guitar. We used to have to share monitors because there were more players than monitors. The music was still great, but I missed seeing the drummer and bass player carrying the groove, keys and lead guitar filling out the sound, and Laurie and Keith’s beautiful vocals taking us into His presence. Admittedly, it wasn’t always great, and there were painful experiences, but it was a lot of fun.
It’s so sad. John McClure is such a great teacher and pastor. Part of me doesn’t understand why the room isn’t crowded out to the doors. It’s sad. I need to spend more time praying for his fellowship. JBB