My husband and I had visited Brainerd Baptist once in 2012 and really enjoyed the service, so we decided to visit again to see if it was consistent with our first experience.
Brainerd Baptist offers three different worship venues. The traditional sanctuary, which has 2 services at 8:30am and 11:15am and is for the more business attired worshiper, features both traditional and blended worship styles with a choir, orchestra, and/or a praise team.
The second venue, also meeting at 8:30am and 11:15am, with its more casual to dressy worshiper meets in the BX Gym. It’s a large venue, but relaxed and contemporary. Worship is led by a band featuring contemporary worship songs, some of which are composed by the band members themselves.
The third venue, known as The Crossing, is a smaller, intimate setting which meets at 11:15am. You will find worshipers who enjoy a louder worship band and who dress casual – although the dressy person won’t feel out of place.
While each venue worships in song independent of each other, everyone is joined together via live streaming as Pastor Robby delivers his message for the morning.
On this particular Sunday morning, we chose the BX Gym venue. We were greeted at the door and then again by a volunteer who offered a friendly and enthusiastic introduction to the drink station and told us to enjoy the service. We made our way into the gym and purposely chose a seat along the back wall. I happen to enjoy sitting at the back because it provides me an all-inclusive view of what’s happening. Since I happen to be a very visual worshiper, I find sitting on the outskirts only adds to my experience. I LOVE music, but I’m not the kind to close my eyes, sway, and get lost in the notes and tones. While all that is definitely part of it, I tend to gain a much richer experience when I can watch the guitar players strumming their riffs, and the drummer banging away on his bass, and the vocalist lifting holy hands, mouth wide open, tears streaming down as she/he worships our Lord. I’m not a typical handraiser, but I do enjoy seeing a crowd of people with hands lifted high when appropriate. And if you’ve been to a typical Baptist church in the South, you know, most of them don’t raise their hands! Ha! THIS church did have a few that felt comfortable to do so – and I found that refreshing.
Did I feel the Holy Spirit move in the worship service that morning? Actually, yes. And I must admit I was surprised as I am not one to base my experience on Holy Ghostbumps running up and down my arms and neck. Frankly, a lot of churches are dead in their worship – just going through the motions and words – and no wonder the Holy Spirit doesn’t move among us when we do that. So, I was encouraged to feel His presence among this group of believers. The songs weren’t ushy gushy (which I appreciated) – instead they were anthems of praise, lifting up our Holy God – it was all about Him and not about us – which is the way it should be.
After the worship and offering, Pastor Robby streamed in and began the next installment in his series, Tainted where he is teaching through the book of Malachi.
His sermon entitled, “The Cost of Change” focused on Malachi chapter 3 challenging us to consider our pocketbooks as they directly reflect the status of our hearts. I know a lot of people complain that churches preach about money, but Pastor Robby wasn’t making a plea for money, he was teaching the Bible for what the Bible says which is don’t rob God – it’s not our money anyway – it’s all His and we are just stewards of it. We were also challenged to take the test God asked Him too (being very careful NOT to test God in areas He never asked us to), give back to Him and see the windows of Heaven opened to us.
My favorite part of the sermon for this morning was an illustration he used from Schindler’s List. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. One day we will all stand before God and give account for our lives. We don’t want to stand there saying, “I wish I would have (you fill in the blank).” In the movie, Liam Neeson plays Oskar Schlindler, a greedy German businessman in Poland during World War II who sees an opportunity to make his fortune by exploiting cheap Jewish labor. But as time passes and he witnesses the Holocaust against the Jews, his motives change and he begins to do what is necessary to save as many Jews as he can from the gas chambers. In part of the final scenes, as more than 1,000 Jews are gathered around him, he bemoans the fact that he could have done more – he says he could have sold his car – it’s just a car – it could have bought 10 Jews’ freedom…he could have sold his gold lapel pin – it could have saved 1 or 2 more lives.
The morning ended with a worship song entitled Promise Keeper. It was written by one of the band members, Andrew Perry. Wow! This song reminds us that even in our failures and the darkness, God’s name will still be great and that He has chosen us for His glory. He is faithful, never changing, and righteous – He is the Promise Keeper. I felt like I was sitting under a modern day Psalmist and was so thankful that this church obviously embraces the talents and gifts of their people.
My husband and I both left Brainerd Baptist that morning energized and challenged to consider where we spend our money. What are we doing to help “the least of these?” What are we doing to sow into our local church community so others can hear the gospel? After all, that is what it’s really all about.
If you enjoy expository teaching, you can find a place at Brainerd Baptist. If you’re looking for a place where your talents and gifts will be celebrated, there is a place for you. Whether you enjoy traditional hymns, contemporary worship songs, or a more upbeat environment and whether you still enjoy wearing your Sunday best or wearing flip flips and shorts – there is a place for you.
Visit http://brainerdbaptist.org/ for more information.