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Centerpoint Church, Pagosa Springs, CO

We were out of town this weekend, visiting Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a little time away and believe it or not budget planning. I hadn’t been to Pagosa Springs in over ten years, and the place has changed a lot. The springs in the center of town now feature a substantial resort and spa, almost every restaurant I visited the last time through town has changed hands or closed, and the town has essentially grown a second center a couple of miles west on Colorado 160.

Near the new center is a place called Aspen Village, a planned community that sports some vacant commercial space, a Family Dollar, a Sears, a few model houses, and Centerpoint Church. I hesitate to say that Aspen Village is a failed housing development, but it definitely looks like it is waiting for its second act. Centerpoint Church, on the other hand, was quite busy when we visited Sunday morning.

I must have overlooked any signs that Centerpoint is the former First Baptist Church of Pagosa Springs. There were no hymnals, let alone a Baptist Hymnal, there was no baptismal, and the only clue I had from their literature was a reference to a First Baptist Church in another town as the source of their Spiritual Gifts Inventory, which served as part of the collateral for their ongoing series in I Corintians 12. The sanctuary had the feel of a dual-use gymnasium, with padded chairs set up across a floor marked for AWANAS. If it weren’t for the giant cross at the back of the platform I might have mistakenly thought I was in a re-branded Calvary Chapel, especially since most of the music was straight Maranatha! Music.

This seems to be a fairly popular pattern among churches that are mixing hymns and praise choruses: Centerpoint had mostly the latter, with one hymn rearranged to be pitched a bit higher than I remember and with a slightly syncopated beat. For the record, I don’t consider hundred-year-old hymns necessarily any better than contemporary worship music per se, but because I find the hymns easier to sing and less repetitive I prefer them. But generally, I don’t take a side in the so-called worship wars, don’t consider it a virtue to do so, and consider the whole subject something about which mature Christians should be able to respectfully disagree.

The service generally was more familiar to me from Calvary Chapel than from Baptist churches, too: 30 minutes of singing, 45 minutes of preaching, and not a whole lot else. We had to leave before the sermon ended, so I can’t say I know what happened at the end. The pastor, Jon Duncan, was in the middle of a series on spiritual gifts that had been going on for at least three Sundays. This week he covered the gifts of tongues, wisdom, knowledge, and faith, in that order. Unfortunately I had to step out repeatedly to deal with the needs of a member of our family, and I may have missed the meat of his discussion of tongues. I think he took the fairly standard Baptist line that tongues were appropriate until the Scriptures were completed but are not in use today. I heard his discussion of knowledge and wisdom; he didn’t really distinguish between them, and both of the examples he used of people who had these gifts were pastors. We left while he was talking about the gift of faith; he was mostly relying on historical examples like George Mueller and Adoniram Judson.

I think if I had to sum up what he said, his theme was that the various spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of the local church. It was on the whole a by-the-numbers Baptist reading of 1 Corinthians 12: neither necessarily right or wrong, but kind of gauzy and unfocused.

I’ve heard enough sermons on this chapter to come to the conclusion that this is one of those passages that works fine as a description of something Paul the Apostle dealt with in historical Corinth, but is not necessarily instructive in every last detail for modern believers or modern churches. I think I might be content to hear this chapter read as nothing but a prologue to 1 Corinthians 13. It’s too easy to fall into one of several traps here: telling people they are special because they have various gifts; reinforcing a “people serve the church/pastor” social order; doing selective readings where some of the gifts are current and others not, on not very good Scriptural grounds. I’m still waiting to hear a good “Christ-centered, cross-focused” reading of this passage.

Anyway, Centerpoint struck me as a fairly typical modern SBC church on the suburban model, and is probably well-adapted for the demographic group that makes up the congregation: mid-to-late-career Texans who have moved to southern Colorado within the last ten to twenty years. We may visit there again when we find ourselves in Pagosa Springs on a Sunday morning, but we’ll probably try one or more of the other local churches first.

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