So I just came back from Rockharbor Church in Costa Mesa. And it's one of the mega-churches in the OC which branched off from Mariner's. For some reason, on Friday, I felt compelled to go check it out. I've been once before, a long time ago - maybe 1.5 years ago. One of my co-workers goes there on Saturday nights and I knew of one of my patients who attends Rockharbor. While at work on Friday, I asked my patient if he was going to go tonight and he said yes. He gave me his number so I could meet him there. Then I asked my co-worker if he was going to go tonight and he said yes. My co-worker is someone who attends Rockharbor without knowing anyone. Visiting a church when you know someone is so much more comfortable than just going alone.
When I announced on Twitter an invite to see if anyone I knew wanted to go to Rockharbor's Saturday night service with me, they all raved about it. How good the pastor is and his messages. I was more looking forward to the crazy worship set because I know they have the funds to have great worship leaders/singers/musicians and instruments/technology.
So I get there and text my patient and my co-worker is already waiting for me. We go in together and take a seat. The place is HUGE and really decorated for Christmas and the winter season. It's really pretty. People are talking and then all of a sudden music begins to play. No announcement or anything, just straight into worship. The pastor cuts worship in half to give announcements and then worship continues. Then the message - it was about how Jesus is the fulfilled prophecy that the Jews have been waiting for and how John the Baptist paved the way for the coming King. We read out of Luke primarily. He tied in a lot of Old Testament parallels that I never knew of. That was awesome. Then we had a time of reflection and prayer, then ended with worship. Then off me and co-worker left.
It's so different than Home of Christians, East LA, the smaller church I normally attend. (I wish we had a website so I could link it...) People hang out before service and then whoever is leading worship announces that we're starting. We have uninterrupted worship with announcements at the end of worship. Then the message and then good fellowship at the end with food, sports, and studying. (I'm referring to Sunday service when we have combined service and before the new church plant.)
Worship is more free at HOC where people jump and dance and truly sing songs to the Lord. At Rockharbor, I didn't really feel the Spirit during their time of worship. People were more rigid and reserved. The message was good at Rockharbor and the pastor did really speak with a passion. I learned a lot and it felt good to be fed with new knowledge and understanding of the Word.
What I really did not like about Rockharbor is that people just leave. At HOC, when service ends, people catch up with others whom they haven't seen all week and I can really see the unity and family dynamic at HOC. I felt intimidated to try to talk to others, even my co-worker. We never really hung out outside of the workplace, so maybe next time I decide to visit Rockharbor, it'll be different.
I personally prefer the smaller church setting over the larger church setting. Although HOC may not have enough money to pay for the best equipment or the nicest location, I really see the heart behind the people who serve there. I'm not saying that people who attend Rockharbor do not have a heart to serve in their church, maybe it's just harder to see.
Thank you God for giving me a place in your church. A place where I can build relationships with others that I know will last a lifetime. A place where I can grow from the pastor and a place where I can grow with my brothers and sisters. Thank you for a group of people I can truly call "family."