I attended a bilingual service of Grace Bible Church, Bryan, Texas on 1-2-2022. In summary, the contemporary songs, though repetitious ad nauseum, were far better theology than what was preached. Unlike other non-denom churches, these folks did actually sing. Like all the other contemporary services I’ve been to eliciting emotion was its aim.
Then the curve ball was thrown. The pastor (?), I don’t know names or positions because these types of churches don’t produce bulletins and while they may introduce people by name, they rarely mention positions. In any event, one of the leaders announces they are going to celebrate Communion to “remember what our Lord did for us.” Then the Verba was read from I Cor. 11. Then we are told to prepare our hearts and come forward where there were two “stations” for distributing the grape juice and bread which people carried back to their seats. To quote a song: “How Bizarre”.
This non-denom church, which started out Southern Baptist, was a hodgepodge. They had a stage, a band, 3 Christmas trees and an Advent wreath. The sermon theme was “How to Live and Give our Best in 2022”. He said he would begin with 3 jokes. Some actually booed when he said there was no nativity scene at the Capital because they couldn’t find 3 wise men. The only way he could’ve bombed more was to tell the 70s racist joke about why a particular country doesn’t have nativity scenes.
The first part of the sermon was an amazing comingling of Law and Gospel and a denial of Original Sin. Not everyone has a hard heart, and you can choose to have a soft one. Hard hearts, like Herod, oppose Jesus. Soft hearts like the wise men seek him. Is your heart soft or hard? If it’s hard, it can only get worse. Hearts soft to begin with surrender to Christ and so follow the leadership of the Spirit.
This led to part two: “Surrendered Hearts Serve.” He actually said the 80’s prosperity gospel, and he was probably born in the 80s. He said, “When our hearts are soft and surrendered, God will provide for our needs.” I don’t know about you, but if that how it really is, I would starve.
At the end, what or who was held before our eyes? Us and what we do and the famous Christian quadriplegic Joni Tada. We were told not only to be like the wise men not the hardhearted Herod in 2022, but be like Joni, have a soft, surrendered, heart. When she surrendered to Lord taking away the use of her limbs, she learned to paint with a brush in her mouth. That doesn’t sound soft to me; that sounds pretty hardcore. I don’t mean that disparagingly.
In sum, Grace Bible Church was simplistic, Biblicistic, and apathetic to what Christ has done for you. The only thing worse than coming out with the weight of making sure your heart is soft, surrendered, and serving, is coming out thinking you have, can, or will.