This is a 90-minute audio-only file which begins with an introduction from Steve Gaines, followed by a mini concert by Ryan Wingo, and a 70-minute monologue by SG. The real "meat" begins at 19:10 if you want to FF past the pre-preview of the "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band." I highly recommend you listen to at least the first few minutes and the last 70 minutes of this tape. It's tedious and painful in places, and you may have to listen to it in small segments and go back and listen to parts of it several times to get it all. (This is why I recommend downloading it. No doubt at several points you'll find yourself thinking, "Did he really say that?") There are a lot more changes in the works, and only by listening to the entire tape will you be fully informed (or at least as "fully informed" as the leadership will allow you to be at this time). This will also help dispel inaccurate rumors, several of which I've already heard.
Remember over a year ago we heard rumors of plans for such things as a coffee shop, an escalator replacing the big staircase in the west lobby, sofas filling the west lobby, and removal of the big crosses because some people found them "offensive"? The detractors came out of the woodwork and denied any of those things had ever been considered. After hearing nothing further until last night, I had decided those things had simply been pushed to the back burner, but because of the integrity of my sources I always believed there had been discussions of all these things. Granted, discussions don't always mean plans are in the works, but we now know that plans for at least two of those four things are moving forward. (You'll have to listen to the audio to learn which two!)
Go here to download and listen at your leisure (preferred). The file is almost 42MB and may take a few minutes to download.
Go here to listen if you can't download such a large file.
It was announced Sunday morning that beginning Sunday, September 13th, Bellevue is going to a new Sunday morning worship service format.
A "preview" is planned for both the 9:30 and 11:00 services next Sunday, June 21st. The new format will reportedly include a "traditional" service at 9:30 a.m. which will include the choir and orchestra.
Whether "traditional" means traditional in the true sense of the word or if it just means the same "blended" service they already have is yet to be seen. I suspect the latter. It will be the same "blended" format currently in use.
The second service is moving to 11:11 a.m. and will feature a "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band." The word "contemporary" was never uttered, nor was the name Ryan Wingo, but both were clear. Bye bye, Jamie Parker. Hello, Ryan Wingo! I've predicted for over a year that RW would eventually replace JP. It was never a question of if but when. RW doesn't seem to do "traditional," so I've no doubt this is being done primarily to accommodate him, a move which seems more than a bit disingenuous after all the times Steve Gaines has insisted that Bellevue will not have separate services based on style. How many times have we heard him strongly emphasize that Bellevue will have a "blended" service at 9:30 and 11:00 and that we will all worship together?
Here was the answer from the "Communications Committee" about the music:
Why did the music change?
For years, Dr. Adrian Rogers sought to have a blended style of worship. When Dr. Rogers retired in March 2005, Dr. Jim Whitmire led us to update our music while continuing to have a blended style of traditional and non-traditional songs. When Dr. Gaines came in September 2005, he encouraged this process to continue. Dr. Gaines has said he wants all of us to worship together and to not divide the congregation over music with separate traditional and non-traditional music services. The objective is to have a blend of approximately 50 percent hymns and 50 percent new songs in each service.
I can't help but wonder how this is going to work for people who attend Sunday School. If you go to an 8:00 class but want to attend a "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band," you have nearly two hours to kill in between. If you attend a 9:30 class and want to attend the "traditional" service, I guess you're out of luck. If you attend an 11:00 class and want to attend the 11:11 service, again, you're out of luck. It seems with the declining attendance and shrinking budget receipts the most logical thing to do would be to go to one "blended" worship service at 9:30 and move all SS classes to 8:00 and 11:00 (or 8:00 OR 11:00). It would save on utilities and on a really good Sunday they might even come close to filling the auditorium. Have all Sunday School classes meet at 8:00, and Steve can keep his watch on and preach as long as he wants!
Germantown Baptist used this format for a while. The 9:30 traditional service would be packed while the 11:00 contemporary service would be sparsely attended. Eventually they eliminated the 11:00 service. It seems first-time visitors would come to the 11:00 service and be so turned off by the whole thing they would never return.
Other than to stroke Steve's new son-in-law, I can't possibly understand why they think this is going to be any more successful at BBC than it was at GBC. Will they be bringing in the funky lights, backdrops, and smoke machines to add ambience?
The idea for a contemporary service at 11:11 isn't original. Second Baptist in Houston, Texas has been doing the same thing for some time. In searching for examples of other churches with 11:11 services, I came across thousands of hits for something called the "11:11 phenomenon." Here are but two:
The 11:11 Phenomenon
The Meaning of 11:11
I'd never heard of this, but apparently 11:11 has significant meanings in numerology. Whether the time 11:11 was chosen because it's easy to remember (easier than 11:00?), because it sounds cute, because Ed Young's megachurch does it, so SG will have time between services to change from a suit and tie to more casual attire, or for some other reason, considering the connotations which accompany "11:11," Bellevue might want to rethink this particular idea.
It wouldn't be the first time something appeared to be changed because of questionable associations. I'm sure anyone who's been inside Bellevue's auditorium or has seen TV or internet broadcasts of Bellevue's services has at one time or another noticed the large "JESUS" banner hung from the ceiling above the pulpit.
When that banner first went up (what year, anyone?) there was a large inverted triquetra symbol on the bottom of it.
Sometime in early 2006 the banner was removed, and the triquetra was replaced with a simple gold crown.
The question has always been why? Why go to the trouble of taking it down and having someone remove and replace the symbol and then rehang it? I'm willing to entertain the possibility there's an innocent explanation. Or perhaps the answer lies here. It seems the triquetra, traditionally a symbol for the Trinity, is sometimes also associated with the occult, especially when inverted. A couple of years ago I talked with a lady whose adult child visited BBC after being away a while who said her child was shocked to see the inverted triquetra symbol on the banner. It was a short time later she noticed it was changed. So, did someone else notice it, too, and clue them in?
Trinity Baptist Church in Cordova has made liberal use of the triquetra (non-inverted) in their church. The church happens to be on Trinity Road, and the symbol appears on everything from their sign to their website to their publications to their choir bibs. Even their bimonthly newsletter is called The Triquetra. If one was offended by a single appearance of the triquetra on a banner at Bellevue, then one might be advised to wear a garlic necklace and carry a crucifix to enter Trinity!
Look, I am not offended by the triquetra or the use of 11:11. When I see the triquetra I understand it represents the Trinity -- although the inverted version doesn't make much sense. I think "11:11" is at worst a bit gimmicky, but to me it's not offensive. All I'm saying is if the triquetra was obliterated because of its inferred association with the occult, then by the same logic, shouldn't "11:11" be ditched because of its association with numerology? It would be a shame to print "11:11" on all those publications only to find out later that it has sinister connotations.