On Tuesday, Mary Jo & I decided to take a road trip. We drove to Cleveland (about 1 hour away) to visit a Parkside Church.
We first heard about the church because of its pastor, Alistair Begg, who has a radio program we used to listen to while living in Toronto called 'Truth for Life'. Pastor Begg is an incredible preacher with a gift for exposing the truth in scripture.
The weather was nice and we were in the mood for an adventure. We were hoping just to spot the church, perhaps peer through a window and return for home.
We got MUCH more than that!
As we pulled into the church parking lot, we noticed they had a bookstore and coffeeshop. Without saying a word, Mary Jo and I both thought 'We're in! We can get in the building!'
Entering the building, a man held the door open for us and noticed quickly that we were strangers to these parts. We told him we were just visiting and attended a church in the Youngstown area. He then offered to give us a tour of the church. Little did we know how great a tour he could give, since he was the custodian! Our first stop ... the back entrance to the SANCTUARY PLATFORM!
The sanctuary seats about 1,700 and was amazing to see, especially from the platform POV. We went to the prayer room and saw classroom after classroom. They don't only separate the children by grade for Sunday, they separate them within the grade by last names A-L, M-Z!!!
We then met the 'Truth for Life' staff and the room they use for recording the post-production for the radio program.
Continuing the tour, we met the Children's Ministries director who was so helpful. I was amazed that she would tell us so much about their program when they knew I was a Pastor and certainly would never be attending their church. She even said that if we were planning to visit some Sunday night that we should email her first so that she could tell us exactly where to bring our children that night! Amazing.
The church receptionist was speed-walking around the sanctuary's outer corridor. She stopped to talk to us and went on and on about how much she loved working there. Again, it's not like we were potential converts to their church! We were SO impressed.
Although I don't have a goal for our church to reach a certain size - I do have a goal that our church be as warm and welcoming as Parkside Church.
In case anyone is interested, I would recommend checking out www.truthforlife.org to hear Pastor Begg preach, or check out the church website at www.parksidechurch.com .