Our visit to Artisan Church

This past weekend the Bertou fam stepped foot inside a church building for the first time in … a year? … two? I’m not sure how long it’s been to be honest, but it’s been a loooong time. Anyway, when I saw that Artisan was participating in the Advent Conspiracy I decided to make a commitment to attend each week through the end of the Advent season.

I dug it. Alot.

Not just the church service, but the culture of the church in general.

In summary:

  • The call to worship was a Bob Dylan song.
  • Worship included tunes by Curtis Mayfield and an old spiritual (best covered by Eva Cassidy).
  • The message was on Jesus’ clearing of the temple and relating it to the idea of spending less at Christmas to do something tangible (digging wells) as a community to help those in need.
  • Took communion to “The Trumpet Child” by Over the Rhine. (And subsequently got choked up for the first time in years during a church service.)
  • Next week Jesse Sprinkle (drummer for Poor Old Lu, Demon Hunter, Morella’s Forest, Dead Poetic) will be sharing from of his experiences digging wells for villagers in Uganda.

My only complaint was that the people there were too friendly. But I’m pretty sure that’s a me problem. ๐Ÿ˜†

I’m actually really looking forward to going back next week. I actually went and entire church service without wanting to gouge my eyes out. There Jim, you happy?

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45 thoughts on “Our visit to Artisan Church

  1. i understand the “too friendly” thing, 100%. i’m not sure what it is, but it bothers me. a lot. and like you, i think it’s a me thing.

  2. Nice. They were the one church that I felt like I could let go at when we were out there. Jason and crew are a good group of guys in leadership.

  3. @ Tim: It didn’t help matters that we were the visitors, and we arrived early. So you know… But seriously, it was a genuine friendly. Which is tolerable even though it makes me feel worse about myself. ๐Ÿ˜†

    @ Matty J: I actually had a really good conversation after the service. He remembered Emmaus. I told him that since 5% of his congregation attends based on my recommendation I figured I should finally get around to visiting the place.

    Weird, but true. Because people find me however they find me online I know of at least six people who attend there regularly who do so because they were Rochester transplants looking for a church and I pointed them in that direction. Ironic.

  4. glad to here that and the service seemed to be very well planned….
    i can completely understand the too friendly thing, but that is just me…let me do what i want to do don’t harass me like you are a kiosk worker at the mall….seriously i hate the kiosk people…but that is another story

  5. We really felt genuinely welcomed and the vibe wasn’t forced. It was relieving.

    One thing they do there that I’m on the fence about…

    Unlike most churches who usher the kids off to “Children’s Church” during the service, Artisan encourages kids to stay with their parents and be part of the full worship experience. Now in theory, I think this is awesome! But in practice I find it terribly distracting. I had to take Josiah potty twice – and he was sure to let me know out loud that the second time he had to poop – and had to break up a sword fight between him and another kid. Sure would have been nice to drop him off somewhere.

    They do provide clipboards, markers and paper to entertain kids with. But I was still pretty distracted. Maybe I’ll grow used to it over time.

  6. yes, i’m w/ ryan, i have felt harassed and like i was a customer or something, and it is incredibly discomforting, particularly when you’re in a place where you know no one and you’re there to worship GOD! the super huge smiles always bug me – but, a lot of people are just really happY! imagine it! haha ๐Ÿ™‚ i think for me the thing that keeps me from going to church is that i hate that feeling of being the stranger, being the new guy, being the one that people want to “make feel welcome”. maybe i should go to a quaker meeting ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. … as part of the 5% (snicker), I was psyched to see you guys there. I agree that they aren’t “overly” friendly, just willing to hang out and talk – not a creepy, “plastic Jesus” kind of friendly. You know as well as I do… been there, done that, won’t go back…

    The music is definitely cool, the teaching’s been getting better, and I’m even thinking about getting involved (hell is freezing over as I type these words).

    Kids can be distracting (especially for old farts like me that blew out their hearing at shows as a kid), but I did get a kick out of the young one exclaiming. “but I GOTTA poop again”!! LOL!

    It was great to see you guys there, and it actually encourages me that you’re coming back – at least for a couple weeks…

  8. Sounds like a very cool Sunday. I like the idea of allowing kids to watch the show. Church is supposed to be a family…and there are kids in families. Sunday School is like sending them to the kids table during Christmas dinner (I hated that as a kid)
    I do not like leaving my boys in Sunday school for two reasons:
    1. They do not like it (at all)
    2. I kinda resent leaving them there. The weekends are for family time in our house. I am away from them enough during the week.

  9. So, Mikey Clair and I were talking today, and we want to know if you warned Brian and Jason about your church killing habits before stepping into their world.

  10. How exactly did I get saddled with the “church killer” monicker again? Ben said something similar a couple weeks ago too. ๐Ÿ˜†

    Rochester church A is alive and well – thriving even – and none of the issues it faced three years ago involved me in any way shape or form. I was just left trying to figure out what to do with myself in the aftermath and ultimately decided to leave for the sake of my own sanity.

    Rochester church B died when all of it’s founding members (who were those guys again?) decided to kill it by relocating to different states for various reasons. Hardly my doing.

    Gainesville was an unmitigated disaster. Should have never went, don’t know what we were thinking. But that was a dysfunctional situation long before we got dragged into that mess, and it had a complete nimrod at the helm (who has since been removed).

    As far as I’m concerned, my hands are clean.

  11. True. But that’s also one of the things I’ve had to work through over the past year and a half. Our experiences with Rochester Church A, denomination X, and Gainesville created a whole bunch of feeling “not good enough” which yanked away my mojo something fierce.

    A whole lot of soul searching since then has:

    A) Gotten me over my messiah complex.
    B) Helped me see that all those scenarios were in motion long before I came into the picture and had very little to do with me personally.

  12. That all makes sense… In all seriousness, I do agree that while you were “in the wrong place at the wrong time” multiple times in a short time period, I don’t think that you personally were the cause of those issues. I’m glad that you’ve gotten some hindsight on those happenings and that you’ve been able to grow and learn from it instead of becoming bitter and hardened to it all.

  13. shane…

    just so you know, you had a charismatic church praying for you in one of their crazy, swing from the rafters prayer meetings during the gainsville episode. i’ve had several folks ask:
    whatever happened to that pastor from NY?

    anyway, how was sprinkle? Poor Old Lu has long been my favorite christian band.

  14. He moved back to where he belonged, settled into civilian life and is very, very happy with the way things have turned out.

    Unfortunately we didn’t make it this week. It’s a long story involving some dismantled kitchen cabinets and a “free” dishwasher which ended up costing about $700. Not a good day! ๐Ÿ˜†

    I’m planning to post the podcast of it once it’s up.

  15. Looks different to say the least. But, I guess that’s why I’d take issue with it.

    What’s the demographics like?

    This church seems kinda emergenty! I heard someone say recently that the emergent church is attracting more Christians who’ve been hurt by mainstream evangelism then they are non-Christians. What do you think of that?

  16. Looks different to say the least. But, I guess thatโ€™s why Iโ€™d take issue with it.

    If that isn’t a self-indictment I don’t know what is! ๐Ÿ˜†

    Whatโ€™s the demographics like?

    The median person there was me. ๐Ÿ˜†

    I can only really speak for what I’ve seen by going once, and to only one of their two services. Ages ranged from 4 mos. to about 60 – but most were 25-40. More culturally diverse than most smaller evangelical churches I’ve been to. Seemed like a decent enough tribe.

    This church seems kinda emergenty!

    I have no idea what that means. Neither do most evangelicals (and most “emergents”).

    I heard someone say recently that the emergent church is attracting more Christians whoโ€™ve been hurt by mainstream evangelism then they are non-Christians. What do you think of that?

    I think if that is true, then it could also be conversely stated that mainstream evangelicalism has done as much, or more, to disenfranchise other believers than it has attracting non-believers. As evidenced by declining numbers across the board and nearly zero growth through conversion in established congregations.

    The sagging number of conversions is a church problem across the board. Nobody is reaching the lost in any statistically significant way.

    But I guess I would also say that if “hurt” Christians truly are finding respite in other (different) churches – rather than writing off the faith altogether – on what planet would that be considered a bad thing?

    But I do know one thing for sure. As long as traditional evangelicals continue to treat “emergents” with skepticism and finger pointing, and vice versa, we’re not going to get anywhere.

  17. cricky…

    i don’t know anything about this particular church and i rejoice that shane is checking them out…

    i don’t think there is any debate about the emerging movement being a safety net to catch the disenfranchised 35 and under crowd. and i can’t say that that is a bad thing. heck, most people in my ultra conservative area of the world think that OUR church is “emerging” because of the couches and the coffee and the dashingly handsome pastor with a cool hair cut.

    but as a theology snob, i’ve got all kinds of issues with those within the emerging camp kicking sola scriptura to the curb in the name of abandoning “fundamentalism.” Changing our tone and our methodology is one thing…hijacking scripture to make everyone feel good is a one way ticket to gnosticism.

  18. (It should be noted that Shane is skeptical that there is even such as thing as an Emergent Church. He thinks at this point it’s little more than a marketing phrase that is code for “cool church.”

    He also rather enjoys referring to himself in the third person. )

    I’m not inclined to defend Artisan as I have only attended once. But I will point out that they do not identify themselves as an “Emergent” church anywhere on their website. They are also a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church. While I may not agree with every doctrinal position of the ECC, they at least have doctrinal positions that can be evaluated. By definition that would disqualify them from being “Emergent.” ๐Ÿ˜†

  19. i think you’re right about the code word. “cool” seems to be a pre-requisite for hooking up with an emerging church. if you’re not wearing rob bell glasses and talking up sundance over fair trade coffee, then you’re not in.

    but i think there is a fairly traceable “arc” to the theology of the emergents. from a “generous orthodoxy” to “sex god” we’re getting a clear picture:

    Nothing is Clear

  20. It’s the natural course of things. The hippies gave us Vineyard, which paved the way for all the “community churches” that dominate the landscape now.

    Post-modernism gave us the Emergent movement. Which is bringing us alot of good ideas, along with some bad theological baggage. It’ll shed the dead weight over time.

    It’s all gonna be alright in the long run. It’s just going to look a little different down the road and there are going to be some birth pains along the way.

  21. of course, vinyard also gave us some of the most goofy charismatic practices of all time.
    which, unfortunately, don’t show any signs of going away.

    but i’m with you…God will iron it all out.

  22. This is how most church movements function though – they pull the emphasis on correcting what they see to be the major “flaw” of some other denom, and in doing so, they usually swing the pendulum to the opposite extreme. It’s happened over and over again in church history – baptism, worship styles, the role of the Holy Spirit, communion, etc…

    There’s an interesting book from the Vineyard called “The Quest for the Radical Middle”. I am always intrigued by the title, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I’ve begun to realize that I line up pretty well with Vineyard theology though. I tend to have a pretty conservative biblical interpretation with a pretty liberal lifestyle (relative to typical Christianity at least).

  23. I still enjoy my good old school Catholic mass each week. I dont need to be entertained when I go to worship I just go to spend a little time in thought and reflection.

    That and Janet makes me go.

  24. What happened that you guys have not stepped foot in a physical church building? Do you already have a post about this, you can point me to? I understand if it’s none of my business and you would rather not get into all of it. If it wasn’t for the church we found, we probably wouldn’t be involved AT ALL in one either.

    We don’t have children’s church either. Levi is 9 so it isn’t that bad, but I can imagine if he was a few years younger I’d probably not be able to fully focus on the “service.”

  25. It’s not that it’s none of your business. It’s more that I don’t have the energy.

    Short version: We left Rochester in November of 2006 and moved to Gainesville, FL to help plant a church. There we endured the WORST church experience of our lives, and were out of that church by January 2007. We didn’t care to look for a church upon returning to Rochester.

  26. Now I am even more curios! Sorry I wasn’t around during that time to offer some type of support.

    We are really questioning “the church” and are lucky to have found a pastor who is questioning the church as well. It’s like an unchurch church.

  27. it’s interesting that you said that shane, b/c i was saying the other day that all i think the emergent thing is is evangelicals who don’t want to call themselves evangelicals.

  28. “i understand the โ€œtoo friendlyโ€ thing, 100%. iโ€™m not sure what it is, but it bothers me. a lot. and like you, i think itโ€™s a me thing.”

    Timothy are you a yankee too? In Texas everyone wants to hug and feed everybody (where’s DeeZone to confirm this) we are hospitable. There are some pretty warm and genuine people out there, just not where you guyses live…

  29. @Tim: In America, Evangelical = Christian. So I’m sure you can appreciate the “emergents” desire to delineate.

    @Selena: It’s “y’all.” ๐Ÿ˜† And, our callousness is caused by the weather. “Don’t say ‘hi’ just let me get where I’m going before I freeze m’jewlz!” We like it that way. Don’t interfere or we’ll re-conquer all parts south and west!

  30. haha, well having lived in ireland i have news for ya, selena – you’re a yankee, too! ๐Ÿ™‚ i lived in floribama, and my ex-gf’s father was a neo-confederate (his office had two huge paintings – robert e. lee & stonewall jackson) and didn’t like the idea of his daughter “takin’ up with a g.d. yankee!”, but when i told him no one in my family was actually in the u.s. until the 20th century he was a little bit more accepting. my kin didn’t take part in the war of northern aggression ๐Ÿ™‚

    and i should add i’m from maine, which is called “the deep south of the far north”. us northerners tend to have a different view of southerners…and it’s kind of based on, you know, history. and the color of your states on electoral maps, haha ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. Timothy, call me a Witch with a capital B, but just don’t go calling me a yankee! ๐Ÿ˜†

    I confess: I was born in Indiana and have lived in NJ and in Michigan, but that was my parents doing…

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