Convicting the Heart
By: Mary Thomas Queen
On Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021, worshipers attending the Church at Brook Hills in person or watching online experienced a call to change their hearts from sinful ways and find joy in Christ. I observed the service online, but have also attended a few services in person during the past year. The congregation numbers around 4,500 members, but due to Covid-19 restrictions there were only about two hundred to three hundred people were in attendance at the first of two services. Many more were watching online. The heart of this church was visible right off the bat: Leaders care deeply for the congregation and the community surrounding the church. In the midst of Covid-19, they have been able to have in-person church with a registration and then online services as well.
When I have attended the church, I’ve been impressed by the energy that I saw from the people. They were excited to be there early on Sunday morning. From the moment that I walked into the building I was greeted by smiling faces and sweet hellos. They wanted everyone to feel welcomed from the start. The environment was lively and everyone was just giddy to be there. I can tell that the leaders in the church take care of their congregation through the small groups, worship nights, and different ministries.
On Easter, as on other days, the pastor had a time of calling people to reflect on their own lives and then a time to actually make the decision to change. I believe this is the telos, or goal, of their services because I can see throughout the service that leaders want for the congregation to feel the weight of their sins and turn to Jesus. The whole service was geared to call people out in a nice way by saying that the sin itself is evil, but the resurrection of Jesus has saved us from that sin.
Connecting all together
From the service that I saw, the main focus of this church was to evangelize to the congregation. Easter Sunday is a good day to go in depth on why the blood of Jesus is so important and that people should not turn their backs to God, but run back to the One who saved them from eternal hell. On this Sunday, the senior pastor, Matt Mason, called people out for their sins. He called us out for having our minds on the flesh and not wanting God to rule over us. Sinners are prone to want to do everything themselves because they think they can do it on their own. This is not why Jesus went to the cross.
The music also aided the emotional development of the congregation to prepare them as they meditated on the words about Jesus’ blood. Each song was geared towards the blood and the glorious day that Jesus rose from the dead and fulfilled the greatest plan. The scripture reading went along with both the music and the sermon and helped shape the posture of the whole service. By having the music, scripture readings, and sermon connected, it kept the service consistent. It showed me that the leaders do not just throw the service together last minute, but they have a huge purpose to every song so that it leads where they know someone is going to hear the truth. The technology and production of the stage help gravitate people towards the leaders to lean into wanting more of what they see.
The evangelistic view during a church service is to reach those who have not ever heard the gospel and for those who are numb to the truth. At the end of the service, Matt Mason had an altar call for those who felt like they needed to turn their lives around to follow Jesus. This goes along with the mission to share the good news.
During this service, there was a testimony presented through a video before the sermon. The woman in the video shared how her life was constantly running away from the Lord, but that the grace of God gave her a whole new meaning to life. She for the first time understood that her sins were forgiven. This gave a great connection going into the sermon as Mason was speaking on the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross. My favorite part of the sermon was when he talked about how this day in age people think Easter is just a historical event that happened and forget that what Jesus did is just as real and alive today.
Worship, Nurture, and to be on Mission
The service, in my eyes, presented the gospel clearly. This is what the church stands on for its foundation. I can tell through all of the different parts of the service they are uplifting Christ’s name and everything flows together to make the name of Jesus the main focus. This means every detail about the service has been carefully thought through before given to the congregation. There was heart and meaning behind every song and scripture to share the good news that Jesus has given us. Not only does the worship part of church help share the gospel, but it also develops deep fellowship throughout the congregation. During this service, the word of the Lord was preached to prick at the hearts of the people and make them realize the weight of their sin.
Throughout the service they talked heavily about discipleship and how important it is to go out into the community and share the gospel. They emphasized the importance of raising kids to love Jesus with their lives and go out into the world. The word that is being preached is supposed to prick at hearts of the people and make them realize the weight of their sin. They want this to not only to change their own church, but to send people out to change the world around them. This service was well thought through and planned. From the music of the scripture reading and then the sermon, everything related back to the point of Easter.
The Church at Brook Hills
Address: 3145 Brook Highland Pkwy, Birmingham, AL 35242
Services Observed: 9 am morning service on April 4, 2021
Video Archives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNnQtHLiZU4
“The Church at Brook Hills · Campus Development Plan.” The Church at Brook Hills, www.brookhills.org/campus-development-plan/.
“The Church at Brook Hills · Home.” The Church at Brook Hills, www.brookhills.org/.
Phillips, L. Edward. The Purpose, Pattern, & Character of Worship. Abingdon Press, 2020.
Mary Thomas Queen ‘23, was a student in Christian Worship: History & Theology in Samford University’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies in spring 2021.
Published May 20, 2021.