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Finding Faith in Faith

This blog is dedicated to exploring the intersections of faith and politics, the intricacies of religious culture and the struggle to balance devotion to a higher being and to one’s culture.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Branch, a departure from the routine

Well, and now for something entirely different.

I had attended Farmer’s Branch once a few years ago with my brother David (who is still a member there). Of the churches of Christ in Dallas, I was probably most familiar with Farmer’s Branch (with the possible exception of Waterview). I was quite prepared for some off the nontraditional approaches they use to reach members and nonbelievers, and so the shock factor that some have expressed from their first visit was not a factor for me.

Farmer’s Branch has truly become a model of innovation for other churches. The church hosts three worship services each weekend, one non-traditional service on Saturday night for seekers and two more traditional services on Sunday morning.

The worship format was extremely dynamic, weaving drama, audio and video presentation and traditional worship forms into a truly multimedia worship experience. Some of this I found engaging and refreshing. Some of it I found distracting.

However, what makes Farmer’s Branch special is not the fabulous facilities or the well-scripted programming (the senior minister even made a correction during his sermon based on input from his producer’s voice in his earpiece). Farmer’s Branch is special because of the spirit of the members.

Although “the Branch” possesses all the trappings of a suburban mega-church, its commitments to service and promoting social justice are impressive. I sincerely hope that more churches follow the Branch’s leadership in terms of engaging others and encouraging spiritual growth.

The senior minister is Chris Seidman, a 1992 graduate of Abilene Christian University. His youth and dynamic presentation style commands attention: you won’t find any drowsy members in his audience. His message was very clear and applicable, weaving spiritual guidance together with practical application. Although I had a few structural reservations with his message (like I said, I’m a communication freak), I had no qualms with his content or his objective.

The Branch was very warm and welcoming. I was directed to a reception area for visitors following services where I met several of the servants, including Seidman and Brent McCall, the executive minister.

I will be taking a week off in my hunt for a trip to Austin, but Farmer’s Branch will probably warrant another visit (after I’ve made the initial rounds).


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