Well earlier this summer my friend Trey Miller and his wife Marjorie introduced me to Buckhead Church. As you may have read from my initial post, a couple of friends had been asking me to go but it just seemed the timing wasn’t right. Born and raised a Catholic, I was expecting a traditional worship service but OMG was I surprised! This is the Love and Pray part of my Eat Love Pray! What’s amazing is the building looks so far from what I have come to expect as a church you’d never know it unless you read the name on the outside. Inside is a world of amazement. Waumba Land for the children is an incredible experience that made me wish I was a child again (although I have been told I am still a child!) You have to go see the Tiki room that would make the most awesome bar!! (but you’ll need a friend with children to get you back since security is top notch.) I still marvel every time I visit Waumba Land from the long mural painted hallways and African Safari theme throughout.
Senior pastor Andy Stanley is really like a rock star. His gift of communicating God’s word holds my attention every second. His timing reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres who speaks at an accelerated tempo and then quickly tosses in a funny comment without missing a beat. And apparently from what I’ve been told by staff, the days that Andy will be preaching is a closely guarded secret. I asked back in July “When will Andy be back” and my question was met with “I am not allowed to tell you!” That’s the intense draw of Andy Stanley as many people (me included) hope Andy is present the Sunday I attend. This past Sunday Andy started a 5 part series on Time. This is great since Andy will be leading services for the next 5 Sunday’s!!
Since I had been taking a vacation from attending the past several Sunday’s, Trey asked if I’d like to join them on Sunday. I was ready to refill my spiritual gas tank! When I arrived I marveled at the amount of people filing in like Andy’s army…a few thousand that is but there isn’t that huge crowd feel. I see people from all walks of life coming to worship and enjoy all the glory of Buckhead Church. This Sunday I convinced Trey to join me upstairs in the balcony for a different perspective (and more comfortable seating!) I am treated to a completely new visual experience. The stage has been redone with a new set and suspended from the ceiling are new light towers that change color.
As the video announcements play I continue to just watch in awe at the quality of the production. Shortly later campus pastor Jeff Henderson walks on stage to welcome everyone and especially first time visitors. (Every visit seems like my first time!) Jeff is persuaded by two other staff members to let a cool “Vegas act” entertain the crowd for 5 minutes. Cue the George Michael music! “Careless Whisper” plays as a spoof of Vegas contortionists gets underway. What’s so cool about this entertainment is it’s unexpected! I didn’t come to Buckhead Church expecting to see a tall guy in a neon green and black leotard performing on stage with an assistant dressed in lime green shorts!! Certainly not stuffy and a true departure from traditional church. But then again, nothing is traditional in presentation at Buckhead Church.
The worship began with the incredible house band taking the stage to lead us in song. If you’ve never been to Buckhead Church, the music is a healing experience. Passionate and gifted musicians, some with recording careers, take the stage and lead us all in song and prayer. Talk about Joy rising! I have tears of joy in my eyes as the holy spirit works through my body. That hasn’t happened since my last Third Day concert!! The entire “concert” experience during worship is like being at a Third Day concert with light fog, computerized digital lights, a first class video production team capturing the band from all angles on the giant screens. I can’t believe this is my church and how wonderful I feel.
The next surprise? Two Baptisms! Two members of Buckhead Church tell their story via produced video presentations. This husband and wife tell of their life struggles and how their love of Jesus Christ transformed them. The spotlight brightens on the side of the stage to reveal a Baptism pool. Each were dipped in holy water as we all watched. This entire experience was emotionally empowering. What a joy to see two of God’s children stand anointed before us all! As Jeff returns to the stage to lead us in a quick prayer, the large stage sized video screen descends from the ceiling and Andy Stanley appears from North Point Community church with his sermon on Time. (You have to see it to fully understand but it really looks like Andy is standing on stage in person.) As Andy talks about “Time” and the question we all ask, “What time is it?”, the real question Andy wants each of us to ask is “What are you doing with your time?” I am fully focused, soaking it all up like a sponge. Andy manages to take verses from The Bible and convey the message in a way unlike any service I’ve ever seen. I haven’t enjoyed hearing a sermon since the gifted Monsignor Richard Lopez was preaching at my Catholic church. Like Monsignor Lopez, Andy’s gift is his style of communicating the word of God. But unlike my Catholic church with pews, Bible’s, song books, kneeling bars, and the crucifix above an altar, at Buckhead Church you’ll find none of that. But both churches share a common theme: to help you grow a personal relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps this is why so many people who have been either out of the church or stopped going are finding Buckhead Church such an enjoyable experience.
As quickly as it started, an hour has passed and I’m walking to the car reflecting on my joyful morning at Buckhead Church. I am feeling more grounded, more connected and my spiritual gas tank has been filled for the week.
Thank You to all the volunteers and staff who fill their time ensuring our time is a blessing.