It was a series of coincidences that led us to CFC Belfast this past Sunday. I kitesurf with a fellow who goes there, and this I only found out on Saturday when we were talking about our plans. We had tickets to see Belfast Gospel Community Choir, which apparently has strong links with CFC and we had booked to stay the night at the Park Avenue Hotel in Belfast - just across the road.
We knew it would be something modern, but we had no idea at all what to expect. At the door we were greeted by two smiley people, and I was expecting to be recognised as new and mollycoddled a bit, but after they handed us some paper, they left us to our own devices. I asked where to go, and they pointed, and it became quickly obvious where the seated area was.
We picked two of the nice soft seats, and were quite surprised that at the start time only about half of the seats were filled. During the first 10 minutes or so, during the opening songs they quickly filled up.
There are three big screens at the front, and at the start a typographic type video was played, explaining man's fallen state, and what God did to bridge the gap, fixing the problem we could never fix. Gospel presentation within the first 90 seconds! The opening worship started, and it turned out Robin Mark was the worship leader. I thought it was good, Susan was a bit disappointed that she knew none of the songs.
The main service continued with a short communion. Obviously this was *very* different to how Presbyterians generally do it, but I suppose it is refreshing to have a change. There were a couple of things I didn't like though. I felt there wasn't the time I was used to in which to reflect on what is happening. If you were sitting in the centre block, like us, they brought us forward in rows, and there was no easy way to get out of taking communion, which I think is important for those who may not want to. Also, in our communion service, we normally have the passage containing 1 Cor 11:29, about being careful who takes communion, but nothing like that was mentioned, and I felt this was a dangerous omission.
The bread was a loaf of bread, which we got to tear a little off, and the wine was juice served in tiny plastic glasses, which were then deposited into a bin.
The whole thing was a bit rushed for my liking, but that's just my preference.
The speaker was excellent. It was about what commitment to Christ actually means, and dealt with all those difficult verses about 'cannot be my disciple' and hating father and mother. Very captivating delivery, and very scriptural message, backed up with a lot of scripture read and on screen. Before the service this is the part I was most dubious about; I wondered would the teaching be sound, and would I have to go away like a Berean, examining and searching for what I had heard. There was no need. It was all clearly backed up, and made sense right from the outset.
We didn't stay for tea/coffee afterwards which is a pity, but unfortunately circumstances didn't allow.
Overall it was a very positive and good experience, I was nervous about going in, and in the end I had absolutely no need to be. CFC seems to be a vibrant, strong, focused church, seeking and doing the will of the Lord, and long may that continue.