This past weekend I had the pleasure of leading music both at Imago Christi on Saturday night and at Noelridge on Sunday morning. It was the first time in a month that I’ve been to Noelridge, and with a month of Imago under our belts it was a good chance to draw some comparisons.
Look and Feel
At Imago we’re meeting at night in a 100-year-old sanctuary with lots of stained glass and insufficient lighting. At Noelridge we’re meeting on Sunday morning in a smaller 50-year-old sanctuary. Noelridge has a smaller, intimate, friendly feel to it; Imago has a deeper, more awe-inspiring feel. I think I prefer the relative expanse of Imago. We do need to do something about the lighting, though. (Plans are in process.)
OK, the music was basically the same. At Imago I led on an electric keyboard with Dave playing guitar behind me. At Noelridge I led from a baby grand with another Dave playing bass and Tapuwa on the congas. I’m much more comfortable sitting down leading at the piano rather than standing up – partly I need a mic stand with a longer boom so I can situate the stand better; partly I’ve just mostly led while sitting down, and it’s a bit of an adjustment to stand up. Both congregations knew the songs pretty well. There was a bunch of sound generated by each congregation with the singing. I am struck, though, by how much more live the sanctuary at Imago is. Hardwood floors and a big high ceiling let the sound rattle around in a way that creates some presence. Noelridge with its low ceilings and carpet is dead by comparison.
Same pastor, same sermon, pretty much. I don’t have recordings of either of them, and I was semi-distracted during the Imago service during the sermon (trying to decide what song to sing for a closing meditation), so I’m going on middling memories here. The Imago version was more concise and seemed targeted a bit more toward unbelievers in the audience. At Noelridge it went kind of long (which seemed OK, though). Still, quality stuff from John 1 both times.
This is where there are two very distinct feelings between the two churches. At Imago, since we’re so new, everyone seems focused on finding the visitors/new people, greeting them, pulling them in. At Noelridge we have an established congregation, so it’s much more of a family feel – people have established relationships, and it shows. Noelridge is still very friendly to visitors, but it’s a slightly different feel. What I gather from this is that we at Imago really need to work on developing relationships among the core team and volunteers, getting us feeling more like a warm family and less like a band of volunteers.
Conclusions? There are good things going on both places. We both have work to do. We both have things we can learn. In both, the gospel is proclaimed, and so I rejoice.