On Sunday, I visited the 10:45 am service at Pathway church. I was really nervous about stepping into a church again for the first time in 3 years, so I took my partner for some moral support. It was reassuring to walk in and feel welcome. Many people acknowledged us and tried to get to know us before the worship started. I definitely didn’t feel like the members were exclusive or judgmental. The worship was a lot like it was in my church growing up. It was a lot like a soft rock concert with loud drums and lots of lights.
The sermon was the most interesting part for me. Senior Pastor Dr. Jonathan Jarboe seemed almost like a celebrity at the church. When he got on stage to speak, it seemed like the whole church’s posture changed and they gave him their undivided attention. He frequently made jokes that were directly related to his personal life, so it seemed like the church members knew all about his life. He mentioned his children and where they are in life, and how proud he and his wife are to finally be empty-nesters.
The church really appeals to visitors. If the members don’t recognize you, they immediately come up and try to get to know you. Multiple times during the service, they stressed that we fill out the “Welcome Card” in the seat in front of us. They even said that if we take the filled-out card to the church’s coffee shop, we would get a free coffee drink and gift from Pathway. They really wanted us to take the “next step” and come to their Newcomers class. Ultimately, I felt very welcome, but I also felt like the church was desperate to add to their numbers.