Hudson Community Castle

—–As I ventured out in my quest to become familiar with the vast diversity of church eschatology, an obvious place to visit came to mind. Hudson Community Chapel is one of the largest evangelical mega churches in our area. Their ministry spheres extend as far as Kent State and Akron University, and their presence in Stow High School is very prominent. It is impossible not to stare slack-jawed the monolithic chapel constructed at the end of Tarex Road. It is easy to imagine the building as a fortress or a castle that guards against the depraved world in which it stands. Surely it could withstand an invasion of evil pagans as they attack and try to convert the minds of their precious children.
—–I, with a panel of the wisest judges I could find, went forth to investigate the secret to their success. What makes Hudson Community Chapel so appealing to so many people, and why do so many friends I know from high school attend? When I arrived with my fellow CBS and Word cohorts, I immediately felt out of place. As I looked around we saw people with the most extravagant and beautiful dress clothes I have ever seen. There were bright flowery dresses that exploded in color and men with tuxedos and incredibly expensive and vibrant polos. Yet I walked proudly in the huge double doors with my cheap Jesus Revolution T-shirt and noticed how nearly everyone stared at it and contemplated the meaning of rEVOLution with the emphasis on Love. It truly stood out as I strode through the wide atrium.
—–It felt very awkward standing there as we were basically left alone by the members of Hudson Community Chapel. It was hardly a welcoming environment but when I think of the thousands of people who attend the church I can understand how it is easy to be passed off as a member or, looking as we did, a ragtag group of scoffers. I noticed a few people I knew from high school and waved as I saw them walk by. It seemed they were almost embarrassed to be caught attending church service and they largely ignored me. Since when has Christ become something to be ashamed of? 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” It is amazing how many self proclaimed Christians there are in high school and college who are not excited by their faith and the revolution that Christ came to spread. They have instead settled for a compromised life that includes appeasing the Lord through their outward appearance and regular Sunday morning service attendance.
—–We approached the information desk and learned about the two simultaneous services offered at that time. One is located in the sanctuary where the adults and parents with their small children attend to see the preacher in front of his pulpit. There, a more traditional worship service is held catering to the needs of the adults. The other service is held in a smaller room on the other side of the atrium that is designed to meet the needs of the high school and young adult members. A video stream of the sermon in the sanctuary is broadcasted in the young adult room. This service also features more contemporary Christian music and comfortable cushioned chairs. We decided to get the full feel of the Hudson Community Chapel church service and attended the main session in the sanctuary.
—–We walked in and I was immediately struck by the grandeur of the room. It featured a high decorated ceiling with glittering gold ornaments that sparkled with the reflection of the stage lights. The stage itself was highly ornamented and had beautiful carpeting. Most surprising of all was rows of gold painted pews! It had been a very long time since I had sat in a pew and as we found places near the front of the stage it felt strangely reminiscent of my grandma’s Methodist church in Mansfield that I would sometimes attend as a young boy. The difference is there I would have to sit in hard wooden pews for hours on end, but here the pews featured nice red cushions that were not altogether uncomfortable, though a cushion for my back would have been ideal. This seemingly defeats the purpose of even having pews since having cushioned chairs would be cheaper and more comfortable but certainly out of place in the majestic-looking sanctuary.
—–After a half hour of worship, which was more exciting than I’ve seen in many other places due to the energized crowd, an elderly African-American clergyman took the stage to make announcements and pray for specific members of the church who were suffering. We were then treated to a most excellent sermon delivered by lead pastor Joe Coffey. Mr. Coffey (haha) was full of the spirit and taught with great emotion and enthusiasm. He is without a doubt a very gifted teacher, and he seemed excited about the good news of Christ. His teaching was about how we must depend on the Lord for everything and how relieving it is to be able to lay our burdens at his feet. Jesus himself says in Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. [29] “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.”
—–The sermon concluded with a musical number from the band as everyone exited the room. It was quite astonishing watching how hardly anyone stayed back to chat but instead fled to their cars to continue their busy lives. Within 15 minutes the building was relatively empty save for the staff. We decided we needed more information about the church and we headed back to the information desk to talk to the very helpful woman from before. She ended up being the only member of Hudson Community Chapel to speak a word to us. She had a kind heart and was overjoyed to have a bunch of college students curious about her church so she showed us around a little bit and gave us some literature explaining their mission.
—–I was convinced by the sermon and the literature that they are truly a living breathing manifestation of the Body of Christ. The problem was that I did not see this in the people. Luke 11:33 says “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar, nor under a peck-measure, but on the lampstand, in order that those who enter may see the light.” The students I know from school who attend this church do not have a fire in their hearts for Christ and they do not talk about their faith to their friends. They leave the hard work of outreach to the elite members of the staff. One member of the panel of judges I brought with me was a brand new Christian who was saved from the depraved world the Devil owns. For people like him it would be just as effective as keeping a sign on the front door that says “stay away ye heathen sinners! Ye have been warned!” The tragedy is that they are not saving their kids and they are not safe. As members of the Body of Christ we cannot afford to live comfortable compromised lives. The time has come to fight or fade away.

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