Evangelical-Charismatic-Lutheran?

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After a difficult process lat year, we’ve decided to give up on our church plant and find a new church home. Our first visit today was to a rather unusual Lutheran church. Details below [Read more].

Finding a new church is always a challenge. When we lived in San Jose, we were extremely happy with South Bay Covenant Church (their website is currently down for renovation). When we moved up to Sacramento for Sandhya’s residency, we couldn’t find anything local which captured both the evangelical and charismatic sides of our mutual experience. So, we went to the Downtown Vineyard, then later to a not-quite-successful church plant that (sorta) split off into Elk Grove.

Now that we are starting over, we face the same challenges. We decided to first try a church that, ironically, is meeting in the community center we had considered for the vineyard. The name is Living Water, and when I visited the website yesterday I was surprised to discover that its actually Lutheran! To be precise, American Association of Lutheran Churches, which is both more evangelical and more charismatic that the ELCA‘s Faith Lutheran church I grew up in (where my parents still attend). Evangelical-charismatic Lutheran sounds like a contradiction in terms, but then again, that pretty much describes my background so I can’t complain!

We attended for the first time today. The church itself feels like a typical post-denominational church, rather like the post-Baptist churches I’ve attended. Vineyard-style worship, casual dress, informal order of service; then again, its a 5-year-old church plant, so probably very few people come from (or are even aware of) the Lutheran background, though I’m sure they still catechize people in the Lutheran tradition when they join.

Overall, it felt very comfortable. The worship was familiar, if perhaps less intense than I’m used to from the Vineyard or SBCC. Similarly for the sermon, which was very “radically centered” — stressing the balance of head (faith), heart (love) and hands (works) — bound together by grace and God’s power, not human strength. The pastor has Fuller/Vineyard experience as well as Lutheran training, so he’s probably as close to me theologically as anyone I’m likely to find. The only downside is that its very white and very young (the pastor, at forty, looks like the oldest person there).

I don’ t know whether we’ll go back, but if nothing else its a convenient fallback option (only five minutes away). We’ll see what God has in store.

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