My wife and I love to visit other churches whenever we get the chance. Being the pastor of a church does not allow for that too often, but yesterday we attended the evening service at Parkside Church in the metro Cleveland area. Just to give you a little background info, the senior pastor of Parkside church is Alistair Begg. Many of you will be familiar with Alistair Begg through his radio ministry, Truth for Life, which is heard on over 1200 radio outlets around the world. Begg has pastored Parkside since 1983, and the church has steadily grown to its current size of about 5000 people. Parkside offers 3 morning services (all the same), with a unique evening service. This gives church members the option of attending two Sunday services, if they so desire. Like many churches, my church dropped the evening service years ago, but I am grateful for the churches that have maintained that tradition, like Parkside.
After a visit with some friends on the way up, our GPS directed us to Parkside just in time for the 7pm service. The sanctuary was comfortably full and those in attendance were eager to hear from God through His Word. Begg started off with readings from the gospel of John and Revelation and then read a prayer from The Book of Common Prayer (1928 edition). The teaching aspect of this service, however, would be a little different than usual. Rather than giving an expositional sermon, like he typically does, Begg offered more of a teaching lecture on the subject of worship. We learned about the priority and purpose of worship and it proved to be very insightful. Following this teaching time, Begg opened it up for some Q&A. The service concluded with an extended time of praise and worship. Parkside offers a unique blend of both hymns and modern worship songs. But no matter what type of genre, every worship song contained God-glorifying lyrics. To finish things of, we sang the benediction song before Begg closed in prayer.
Following the service, Stephane and I went to the Parkside bookstore, which is one of the best bookstores I have ever been to. With me being a booklover, I could not pass up the chance to explore the great collection of books available. The bookstore also has a coffee shop, but it was too late for us to indulge in coffee. We did, however, go to a nearby custard shop for a late-night snack before our long drive home.
To say the least, it was a blessing to attend this service at Parkside. I praise God for how He is using the ministry of Parkside Church and Alistair Begg both here in Ohio and around the world. My advice: check out another church sometime. Being a local pastor myself, I am certainly not advocating church-hopping, but if the opportunity presents itself, why not consider visiting another gospel-centered church?