A Church that Values Community
By Rebekah A. Marsh
“DOCC exists to glorify God by becoming a worshiping community of influence where every man, woman, and child is maturing in their Faith and being equipped to give their lives away” (“What We Believe — Double Oak Community Church”, n.d.). This mission statement for Double Oak Community Church is powerful, and it is evident throughout to an individual observing their worship services that this church is committed to becoming a “worshiping community” (“What We Believe — Double Oak Community Church”, n.d.). Through Sunday worship services, to supporting their missionaries, to hosting gender and age specific ministries, and non-age-related community groups, community is a major part of the framework of Double Oak.
Double Oak Community Church began by meeting on its Mount Laurel campus on January 16, 2005. On August 12, 2018, the church opened a second campus nine miles away in Chelsea. The church considers itself to be autonomous as a body of believers and acknowledges that it identities with the Baptist tradition. It belongs to the Shelby Baptist Association.
Four years after starting the Chelsea campus, the church leadership announced that it was considering pursuing an independent model between the two church campuses. The leadership explained both on a YouTube video and on an FAQ section of their website that they had been prayerfully considering the change for a few months. They believe that as the two separate campuses have grown and expanded over recent years, it makes more sense for the two to become more independent from each other, as their ministries grow more uniquely specific to their local areas.
Telos of Worship at Double Oak
Based on my observation of worship at Double Oak, particularly the March 19, 2023, service, their worship has two goals, or telē. The first telos of this church’s services is spiritual union with God. This is the goal that worship scholar L. Edward Phillips associates with the “Pentecostal” and “Praise” models for worship (Phillips 2020, 26). Worship at Double Oak reflects other aspects of this model. For example, the ways in which the congregation was encouraged to worship the Lord were personal, as they were individually choosing how to worship from where they were standing in the room, and they were able to choose what physical posture to use. Some chose to simply stand and look at the lyrics, some chose to sing, and some chose to sing while raising their hands. This reflects a telos of spiritual union with God, as they sang individually, but also as a body of believers, together in one room. Second, I believe that another of Double Oak’s goals is to be a “worshiping community” as they state on their website. (“What We Believe — Double Oak Community Church” n.d.). I want to specifically focus on the “community” aspect of this. As I observed Double Oak’s services, I noticed that they made a lot of announcements regarding the fellowship opportunities that they had organized, as well as opportunities for the members of the church to come together and grow stronger in the knowledge of God’s Word. The church also makes it important by including an extended greeting during the service when attendees can turn around and greet others. I was also personally greeted by many members of the congregation as I walked throughout the lobby, further emphasizing to me how welcoming and friendly the congregants are, as well as how much they value participating in their community.
Ethos of Worship at Double Oak
The ethos of Double Oak, also conforms to Phillips’s “Praise Worship” model. It is “embodied ecstasy,” which Phillips describes as “the physical experience of giving oneself over to the Holy Spirit” (Phillips 2020, 26). And as Phillips describes, the energy in the sanctuary at Double Oak seemed vigorous and at a high level, reflecting an intensity and passion about the Lord as congregants worshiped . This ethos is about expressing the joy of the Lord and the feeling of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and being in the presence of the glory of God. This is a powerful, immersive, all-encompassing experience, and the worship at Double Oak seemed to center around these things, as the worship became a focused, passionate experience. The worship leaders embody this ethos well, as they believe that they are assisting bringing people into the presence of God, which is a holy, set-apart experience, and therefore they take their job very seriously. This was clear as they chose certain songs that fit together both rhythmically and melodically, and as they chose songs for the message in their lyrics as well. These factors combined to reflect their ethos of embodied ecstasy.
Heart of Worship at Double Oak
I personally found Double Oak’s commitment to community and outreach to be refreshing. As I researched the way they had decided to split their two churches into separate places with separate congregations and areas of ministry, I saw how careful they were to do so in a loving and biblical way, and the way that they communicated this to their congregations was also clear and effective. This signaled to me that Double Oak is consistent when they speak from the stage on a Sunday morning about the importance of community and greeting one another during the service in the name of the Lord. They are also following through as they make decisions in ways that will love their communities best. Also, the friendliness of the individual congregants will stick with me as I ponder this church and their Sunday morning worship services. I felt that the whole church was passionate about reaching their communities, and that included me as I was a newcomer to the church. Overall, Double Oak Community Church seems to be doing a great job keeping their worship practices centered around the Word of God, and that will help them stick to their telos and ethos very well.
Double Oak Community Church, Mt. Laurel Campus
Location: 115 Olmsted St, Birmingham, AL 35242
Services Observed: Sunday Worship, March 19, April 2, April 9
Video Archives: Double Oak Community Church. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/@doubleoak
Congregation established: 2005
Phillips, L. Edward. 2020. The Purpose, Pattern, & Character of Worship. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Ross, Melanie C. 2021. Evangelical Worship: An American Mosaic. New York: Oxford University Press.
“What We Believe — Double Oak Community Church.” n.d. Double Oak Community Church. Accessed April 13, 2023. https://doubleoakcc.org/believe.
Rebekah Marsh ‘23 was a student in Christian Worship: History & Theology in Samford University’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies in spring 2023.
Published April 29, 2023