Scriptural View: 3/5
Service times: 6pm
Site Usability: 2/5
Site Design: 3/5
Site Content: 2/5
“We’ve tried a number of ways to reach out to people in the community. We’ve tried TV, parades, door knocking, all of this didn’t work. Creating the additional service is the best outreach we’ve ever done” Pastor Larry Hamblen said. First Baptist Church of Coronado calls the new service, “The Vertex.”
The Vertex launched one year ago as an evening service, catering to a younger audience. “A couple of people wanted to make the church more exciting. They wanted to have a service with a higher energy and more upbeat music,” Pastor Hamblen told me. Hamblen described the service as having a “postmodern flavor”.
Wedged between homes on Coronado Island, First Baptist Church’s steeple rises a story above the white building. Inside, ten candles in sconces hang on the walls. The candle glow provides a faint light to the room. Thin stained glass windows, black from the night, line one wall. The small sanctuary houses nine rows of cushioned pews. A cross, six feet in height, hangs on the front wall. Nearby, a large screen displays artistic images along with the words to the songs.
The 38 congregants at the service were primarily college-aged students. Common attire was a PLNU sweatshirt, jeans, T-shirt and an occasional baseball hat turned backwards. I asked Taylor Dwyer, the lead guitarist and vocalist in the band, about who attends the service. “Half of the people live on the island. They either have been involved with the church or heard about it when we posted door-hangers in the neighborhood. The other half are friends of ours from Point Loma Nazarene College.” Dwyer and the entire band graduated from PLNU last spring.
The service began with a welcome from Dwyer. Through the service, the band performed nine songs. The volume of the music filled the small sanctuary as a drummer, keyboardist, bass guitar, electric guitar and acoustic guitar accompanied the singing. Later, Pastor Hamblen told me they had purchased a new sound system for the evening service.
Dwyer classified the band’s sound as “a little harder than Dave Matthews Band. We play a lot of songs from the Passion Movement and the Vineyard, but we would like to write our own tunes.” The songs for the evening included Trading My Sorrows, Blessed Be Your Name, Hear Our Praises, Lord Most High, You Alone and How Great is Your Love.
The keyboardist from the band, Tim Gaines, preached the sermon. Gaines based his message on the gospel of John, chapter eleven. This chapter tells the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The shortest verse in the Bible is this chapter: “Jesus wept.” Gaines connected the story to the congregation’s life by saying, “I believe Jesus weeps when we come to him without faith, when we give up on our brothers who are spiritually dead. Just like in the story of Lazarus when we see people give up on Lazarus who is physically dead. The people didn’t have faith that Jesus would raise him from the dead. I believe that is why Jesus wept.”
After service, Gaines told me he preaches every four to five weeks. Gaines studied philosophy and theology at the undergraduate level at PLNU. He is in graduate school and would like to teach theology at the college level. “Theology is bigger than anything that I know. It’s so much bigger than me. I love being caught up in something bigger than me,” Gaines said. “I like how theology influences a church to live and do local ministry.”
Philosophy comes to play into his preaching. “You can’t take theology and philosophy apart. Theology has, over the last 1,000 years, basically followed philosophy. Philosophers and theologians have been in conversation and so you can’t really study one without studying the other. You have to have both together.”
The Vertex is a service reaching the postmodern generation with a band, candles, and dark lighting.