Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!Psalm 150
Eight years ago (on 2012.05.01), I began serving at the First Presbyterian Church of Sparta, New Jersey. When I arrived, there was tension in the air. Like many churches, there had been and still existed worship wars that pitted current contemporary music and worship styles against once contemporary music and worship styles of the past. The church had two different worship services averaging approximately 100 people in each. Barbs would be traded privately, and occasionally publicly. And like many churches who suffer from this affliction, the people were, for all intense and purposes, functioning as two separate churches under one roof; they were divided.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the work of a great interim pastor, a whole lotta love and patience, trust building, and buckets of prayer, many of the people in the church were being drawn closer to each other. September of 2017 they made the bold move to combine the services! The critics said it would never work and predicted that the church would fall apart. They said people would leave in droves. The critics were wrong.
Over the past two and one half years, the church family has been worshipping as a single family. A few did leave, but others came…and boy did they. Today they worship together online, and in a pandemic, they are thriving!
This is what our website says about how we understand worship:
“On any given Sunday you never know what you are going to find at the First Presbyterian Church of Sparta: hymns, praise songs, choir, praise team, bell choir, children, organ, guitar, piano, banjo, percussion.
We simply call it WORSHIP!
We prayerfully strive to make our worship of The Triune God of Grace real, authentic, organic, wholesome, deep, creative, and unified.
You will also see us in all of our age, theological, ethnic, and stylistic diversity as we give glory and praise to the Author of Life, the Universe, and Everything. The side benefit: Each season we grow stronger together in the Spirit of our God!”fpcsparta.org
As of Thursday (2020.04.30) I complete my eighth year at First Presbyterian Church of Sparta. It is my profound honor to continue to serve these people God gave me to love.