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Community Church, Tucson, Arizona, USA
Community Church (the "Cool Church"), Tucson,
It is a small stucco building with a tiled roof at the back
of a cobblestone parking lot. The building is not visible from
the street. Inside there were chairs in rows facing a platform
where the musicians stood. That is also where the retractable
screen was lowered when it was time for the live remote. Also
there were high bar-style tables and chairs that some people
chose to sit at. At the back of the "sanctuary" (seems
like the wrong word!) there was a booth where t-shirts, bumper
stickers, videos, etc. were offered for sale.
They call themselves "the Cool Church" based on the
notion that God is poorly represented by most churches, but
when we make an effort to understand him we realize that following
his principles will improve our lives, and "that's cool!"
They have a main campus plus three branch locations. They conduct
a special outreach to children and teenagers, although the ages
of people at the service I attended ranged from the 20s through
50s. I did find one thing that is somewhat unique. The church
insists that having a paid staff accountable to a paid senior
pastor is the only type of church leadership sanctioned by the
Bible. And the senior pastor is accountable only to whichever
members of the congregation can prove that there have been occasions
of sin in his life. Their website gives no fewer than 12 scriptural
references from Acts and the epistles of Paul, Timothy and Peter
to support this contention.
The service I attended was at the TCC East facility, which is
located in Santa Fe Square Plaza, an upscale strip mall near
the intersection of Grant, Kolb, and Tanque Verde Streets, not
far from the street most interestingly named Speedway. This
is a busy part of town, where there are many businesses and
a lot of traffic.
Dr Andrew Laurie, regional pastor of the facility, led the service.
The sermon was given via video feed by David McAllister, senior
The date & time:
June 29, 2008, 9.30am.
What was the name of the service?
There are two Sunday services at each of the facilities. There
didn't seen to be any name that I could find other than "The
How full was the building?
I estimate that the building seated about 75, and it appeared
to be three-quarters full. Everyone was casually dressed.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A friendly woman at a literature table near the door welcomed
me warmly. She introduced me to Dr Laurie and was glad to tell
me about the church and answer a few questions. The only other
person who spoke to me asked me if the seat next to me was saved.
Was your pew comfortable?
There were individual chairs rather than pews – padded and
How would you describe the pre-service
There were contemporary Christian music videos playing before the service began. People were filing in, and there was a fair amount of friendly chatter.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning and welcome to Tucson Community Church."
What books did the congregation use during the
None other than a bulletin that gave the basic outline of the
service, with space for you to write down notes. Most people
did not have Bibles with them..
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, guitars and drums – about ten musicians in all.
Did anything distract you?
During the sermon, which was a video feed of Pastor McAllister,
innumerable slides plus a movie clip were flashed onto a screen.
Several props on a small table were also used. Although all
of these were supposed to be tied in with the sermon, I found
the relevance of most of them tenuous at best, and the whole
presentation seemed a little patronizing. And the band was playing
so loudly that I could feel the bass vibrations in my chest.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The worship was somewhat happy-clappy in that the tunes were
upbeat and people were clapping. But no one sang along with
the worship band. I kept looking around me, checking to be sure.
I didn't quite know what to make of this. One song was even
accompanied by a small light show. There was no communion at
this service, but they do occasionally have communion. As mentioned,
the senior pastor's sermon was piped into all four locations
via video feed. I understand that the Wednesday night service,
called "ExL" for "extra learning," is quite
different. At that service Pastor McAllister holds forth on
topics such as "What God thinks about divorce" or
sex or being single, etc. He also occasionally answers questions
that have been submitted beforehand by the congregation.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
8 The senior pastor had a very "cool" youthful look.
He even described in his sermon the routine he goes through
to maintain his hair, which was bleached blonde and spiked in
a cap-like shape on the top.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
The sermon was entitled "Five Steps to Walk the Walk" and his
text was Mark 5:1-20, the story of the Gadarene demoniac out
of whom Jesus cast a thousand demons. Jesus did not allow the
demoniac to follow him after he had been set free; rather, he
instructed him to go back to his usual circle of family and
friends. Jesus did this as a more powerful testimony of his
power, as these were the people who had known the man in his
previous condition. He also spoke about spiritual warfare, and
warned about trendy views that exaggerate the power and scope
of demons in the lives of Christians. He emphasized the power
of Christ over the devil.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The sermon was full of much thought-provoking insight. At first
I thought that hearing a sermon via video feed would be rather
strange, but it turned out to be not so strange after all.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The rock-star-like, performance feeling on the part of some
in the worship band.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
I stood around, but only one person made eye contact with me,
throwing me a quick "Hi" as she walked by. I was surprised
by the lack of friendliness or introductions, especially in
such a small group. It was probably very obvious that I was
How would you describe the after-service
Free coffee was served in styrofoam cups. Other snacks were
available for purchase.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 Although the teaching was quite good, I am too fond
of singing in church to make this my home church. Perhaps I
have "aged out" of this type of service.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes! I think there are so many different kinds of people in
the body of Christ, thus different kinds of services, etc. I
like the variety, and how all true believers are part of the
church universal, regardless of nonessential differences.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I will remember the live video feed.
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