Rock ‘n Roll – A Different Pathway to the Gospel

Post a Comment » Written on February 25th, 2009     
Filed under: News
PAXTON, IL (February 25, 2009) – In all of its 130 years, the Evangelical Covenant Church of Paxton never had a worship service that even resembled the one they celebrated Saturday night.

The congregation averages 70 people on Sunday mornings, but about 100 people made a loud, joyful noise at the inaugural “Rock ‘N Roll Church” in this farming community. Although the initial service was geared more toward older adolescents and young adults, the audience included people ages two through 80, says Pastor Craig Pinley.

The theme of the initial service was “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” The service included music from The Rolling Stones and U2, among others, along with videos, a skit and a message from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.

RockTwo of the church’s parishioners, Rick and Mike Nelson, came up with the idea. Tedd King and Larry Bemount, a pair of local musicians from area churches, gave their support and committed to three monthly Saturday night services.

Rick, the church’s chairperson and a farmer by trade, had been a drummer for local bands for more than 20 years. He had played with King (the lead singer) and worked with Bemount (bass) in bands before. Mike Nelson, Rick’s son and the lead guitarist on Saturday, had traveled throughout the Midwest with the Christian band Kwench during his high school and college years.

Mike’s rousing guitar solo during the Doobie Brothers’ song “Jesus Is Just Alright With Me” was the musical highlight of the night, says Pinley. Click here to see additional photos.

Much of the area is tied to agriculture, but Paxton also serves as a bedroom community to Champaign-Urbana, which has more than 100,000 people and is home to the University of Illinois. Given that the median age of the local community is 37, church leadership believed that an alternative worship experience might be worth a try.

“Using secular music and hard rock might not be the norm for traditional churches, but we believe that there is a significant young adult population that might not be at all involved in church in our region,” says Pinley.

“We pray that communicating the love of Christ in a non-traditional form might give folks a forum to ask questions about God and to dialogue with Christians that might enjoy hard rock music,” says Pinley. “We expected young people from other churches to attend, and we hope that they’ll return to their congregations with more enthusiasm for the gospel.”

“Other churches may have other resources to reach people that aren’t currently attending church. We have quality musicians that have a passion for Jesus,” Pinley says. “They took the lead in making this happen and we’re glad the church could affirm their efforts. They were awesome and I’m sure God was honored in what we did.”

The next Rock ‘N Roll Church service will be March 21 with the theme “Keep Pushin’ ” using the REO Speedwagon hit song as a catalyst for the  message of persevering during tough times.

There is no charge for Rock ‘N Roll Church and childcare is available. For more information about Rock ‘N Roll Church and the congregation’s other activities, call Pinley at 217-379-3554 or email the church.

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