November 30, 2009

Church Experiment #48: City Gospel Chapel

God has a silly sense of humor.

Lots of backstory this week.

First, my friend Jason spends a significant amount of time interacting with Cincinnati’s poor and homeless. He introduced me to City Gospel’s Chapel service ( Basically, every evening, City Gospel provides a meal at 7:30 PM for those in need. Before that meal, everyone is required to attend a 45-minute Chapel service. Various churches in the area take turns leading the service. Jason mentioned it might be an interesting stop for my experiment. [I’m not sure if City Gospel still does this. I couldn’t find any information about it on their website. They still serve dinner, but it doesn’t look like they host the chapel service anymore.]

Second, last week opened my eyes to one unavoidable fact: I am uncomfortable around the poor and homeless. So, this week, I wanted to stretch myself. Sunday evening, I attended City Gospel’s Chapel service. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but I was very nervous. It was dark, the service was located in a fairly rough part of Cincinnati, and I am a crazy germaphobe.

I am not proud of most of what I will say in this post, but it’s reality. I was scared of catching something. Every time someone coughed or sneezed, all I thought about was germs filling the air. I even left my gloves on in case anyone shook my hand. I know, I know … it’s super lame, but it’s the truth.

Third (and here’s the silly part), I helped plant a church a few years earlier in Clifton. One of the first attendees was named Doug. Doug eventually became a leader in the church. We were in a small group together, hung out on occasion, and I even visited a strip club with his wife (long story … not as creepy as it sounds; you can read all about it in my next book). Doug developed a friendship with a guy named Anthony. Because of that friendship, Anthony eventually began attending our church. While there, Anthony committed his life to Jesus and got baptized. Doug and Anthony continued hanging around that church until the summer of 2009. They left in order to help plant another new church in uptown Cincinnati. That church happens to be an Acts 29 church. And … that church happened to volunteer the week of my visit to lead City Gospel’s Chapel service.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.