Posted by: Nathan | July 13, 2006

Church of the Open Door

I already posted about leaving Minnesota, which the wife and I have just done, but I left out one of the things we will miss the most about our former state: Church of the Open Door. Indeed, I already miss Sunday service out in the Maple Grove airport-looking worship center, and I know I’ll only miss it more when we arrive in Denver and begin another dreaded church search.

The first thing that I really appreciated about Open Door was the worship, especially when Joel Hanson led it. The man can play guitar and sing, but what I enjoyed most was his come-along-side-me-and-worship attitude. Open Door’s worship is mostly worship songs, which in my view are a step down from hymns, but the effectiveness of any worship is dependent on the church’s posture and attitude. It was always a joy to come to church and join in on the enthusiastic and Christ-centered worship. An added bonus was Joel’s occasional writing of a new song that corresponded with the sermon; these were always poignant and powerful. Also, whenever they busted out a hymn, it was fantastically done.

I also loved communion at Open Door. I’m used to the traditional Prostestant style Lord’s Supper, wherein the elements are passed around. Open Door celebrates communion by having its churchgoers rise up and go to receive the bread and wine. There was something powerful about the act of going to receive the elements. We waited in line while singing the praise songs that they play throughout the taking of communion. It was a time of reflection. Then, when one took the bread and wine, the celebrants said a blessing. Open Door dedicates one entire service per month to communion; it was a unique and meaningful way to take the Lord’s Supper.

My absolute favorite thing about Church of the Open Door was its head pastor Dave Johnson (a fellow Bethel alum). Once you get used to his unusual start-and-stop rhythm, Pastor Dave is a phenomenal speaker because he’s so in tune with God; I got the impression that Pastor Dave always wanted his sermon to be a Word from God, and for me it frequently was. Pastor Johnson has such a passion for the Lord and for others. He unrelentingly focused on how to change our lives to be more like Christ. He is also courageous. It takes some nerve to directly challenge your congregation on issues–most pastors don’t do it. Pastor Dave addresses behaviors, ideas, and trends in his culture and in his church in a way I’ve never experienced anywhere else.

And he did it all in a spirit of love. His messages never condemned his flock; Pastor Dave was quick to talk about his failings, and he spoke about the problem he was addressing by uniting himself with his listeners; “This is something we struggle with” was always what came across. I will miss his passion, eloquence, humor, ability to exegete, and genuine love and care for his fellow believers and nonbelievers.

The worship, communion, and pastor at Open Door had J and I continuing to drive a half-hour to get to church for over two years. Though I never got involved in ministry, small groups, etc. there (I was in college and then I knew we were soon to leave), Open Door was my church home. Fairly or unfairly, it is the church by which I will measure other churches in terms of how good does it fit J’s and my needs. God will find us another chuch in Colorado, but it was amazing and a ceaseless joy to be a part of Open Door for a couple of years. Thanks, everyone there. And thanks be to God also.

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Responses

  1. Do you mean Joel Hanson of the late, great PFR?! If so, I’m quite jealous.

  2. Be jealous. Not only is it Joel Hanson of ‘The Late Great PFR,’ but also of ‘Goldie’s Last Day,’ ‘Them,’ and ‘Pray for Rain.’ 🙂

  3. Nice. Don’t forget ‘Great Lengths’, ‘Disappear’ and ‘Bookhouse Recordings’. I miss ’em…

  4. Yeah, Joel’s the man.

  5. I go to Church of the Open Door and I know how difficult it is to move away from a solid church with an annointed pastor. I attended a church in Albuqueruque, NM for 10 years and felt the same as you when I moved to MN – wondering where I would ever find another church like my home fellowship with pastor Skip Heitzig in NM. I can tell you that Calvary Chapel of South Denver is a great fellowship with Pastor Gino Geraci

    http://www.calvarycsd.org/about/index.php

    Blessings to you and your wife.


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