Monday, July 9, 2012

Worship at Substance Church

Yesterday I had the opportunity to worship at Substance. This is a relatively new, mega-church that was started by Peter and Carolyn Haas in 2004. They have had phenomenal success—especially among adults under 30. They now are a multi-site church that worships at four different locations. Their web site is:

Because Chain of Lakes primary worship time is Wednesday this summer I was available to worship at a different location yesterday. At Chain of Lakes we are offering a worship service on Sundays that involves the Alpha video series. Three of us take turns leading that group. I wasn’t scheduled to be at Alpha yesterday, so I went to worship at Substance.

I attended the 9:00 service at Spring Lake Park High School. This was one of seven worship services that Substance offers on a weekend. As I came up to the parking lot I was greeted by a young boy waving a flag on the edge of the parking lot. Their parking lot ministry was well-staffed. Worship was held at the auditorium at the High School. There were many opportunities to sign up for ministries in the lobby of the high school along with clear directions for the kids program that was going on.

When I walked into the auditorium at 8:50 there were probably less than ten people there. People kept arriving, though. I would guess when everyone eventually arrived over 125 people were present. Most of the people in attendance were young adults.

Worship started promptly at 9:00—it had to as a video screen had a count-down to the start of worship. When the count-down hit zero the Praise Band started. The Band was made up of six people—five men and a female vocalist. I love singing Praise songs, but I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs we sang yesterday.

After the first song the Campus Pastor welcomed us to worship and prayed. We then sang, had a video about small groups, sang, had a video about the departure of a worship leader to another church, and sang some more. This first part of worship lasted a little more than 20 minutes.

The sermon was preached by Mark Mellen and delivered over video. The topic was “Being a Catalyst.” The sermon was a combination of videos, stand-up comedy, personal stories, stories of people’s lives who had been transformed at Substance, and biblical preaching. It lasted 35 minutes.

We then sang a song, and celebrated Communion. The Campus Pastor prayed for us and told us how we would receive the elements. We got in a line and picked up a cracker and cup of juice.

We then sang another song and left. The service lasted 75 minutes.

The Spirit is obviously moving through Substance. We in the main-line church who bemoan our inability to attract young people have a lot to learn from churches like Substance. I pray that our main-line churches can be open to learning from churches like Substance.

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