I had the privilege of visiting The Village Church in Dallas Texas. As the 5 readers of this blog will know, I'm a big fan of Matt Chandler. . . . not in the "coolest flavor of the month" preacher way. . . but I think he'll be around for a long time because he teaches the word unapologetically, he strays away from false guilt and painting with broad brushes, and he's balanced and nuanced in his stances on things. (which does not, as is often believed, lead to heresy or slippery slopes. . . it's just being a little thoughtful about how we land on some things)
I showed up during the last song of the opening singing and I thought I had missed a bunch, but that's how they plan their services. . . announcement/1 song, and then the sermon. They do most of their worship music after the sermon so as to respond to what was preached.
Michael Bleeker is the worship pastor at the Village, and he does a great job. He and Matt C. used to lead the Metro Bible Study in Dallas, which was a multi-church young adults gathering that ended up growing to like 3 thousand people before Matt C. came on staff at the Village. The Village now has 3 campuses and north of 5 thousand people. But, as I'll point out later, there aren't some of the same issues that many large churches have.
This was another trip to the South. . . and it's a very cultural thing to attend church there. Everyone attends church. What I like about Matt Chandler, over against some other preachers. . . is that he speaks against that. He calls it out. He understands that (perhaps) many of the folks attending his church could not be Christians, and are perhaps just participating in a cultural ritual.
I think this is very important in any church context. But, for sure. . in the South. We need to call this out.
This church was top notch in everything that they did. I learned that excellence in music, production, visuals, etc. . .does not necessarily coincide with doctrinal indifference, watering down of the message, and lukewarm Christianity. It is often reported to be the case. . . but those problems comes down to other more important things, which The Village is very passionate about. . . .such as. . . .the authoritative preaching of God's Word, and, congregational worship that is participatory (instead of spectacle-ish and presentation--ary), and doctrinally solid. You should do both of those, and you should strive for culturally understandable gatherings. These things are not mutually exclusive.
I loved The Village Church, I've been corresponding with one of their Worship Leaders and am impressed with all of the folks that God is using there.