I decided a couple weeks ago that I’m going to start attending the worship services of the various churches in my area, partially for self-education and partially for fun. Motivated by the vision of being inspired by new and unfamiliar practices, I hopped on Google and searched for “roseville churches”, then clicked on the map view. Roseville isn’t a huge cosmopolitan metropolis (it’s a suburb of Sacramento, with a population of about 120,000 people), but it’s large enough that I hoped to find a variety of religious groups.
Of the first 10 search results, 8 are non-denominational Christian churches and 2 are familiar Protestant denominations (Presbyterian and Methodist). In the next 10 results there’s a bit more variety: Church of the Nazarene (is that Protestant? Non-denominational? Evangelical? I guess I need to figure just what those words mean…), Christian Scientist (same questions), a Russian-language church, Catholic, Presbyterian, Seventh-Day Adventist, and 4 more non-denominational (at least, I assume a church is non-denominational when it has some kind of poetic name like “Hillcrest Alliance” or “Harvest Community”. Like I said, I’m still kind of figuring this out).
The next 10 results (21 through 30) start getting into some of the more exotic options: Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses (result #24), LDS (yay us! result #25), along with 4 more non-denominational, 2 more denominational, and 1 more Catholic. The next 10 consist of 8 non-denominational and 2 Orthodox.
So my first thought is, what’s non-denominational Christianity all about? I put 24 of the first 40 results in that category (60%). It’s also the category I’m least interested in. In my (admittedly ignorant) mind, non-denominational Christianity is the milquetoast of Christianity. It’s the place for people who say, “I love Jesus and the Bible and that’s good enough for me.” Kind of more a convenient cultural designation than a contemplatedly spiritual one. I unfairly lump all these churches together. So I’m looking forward to visiting some of these churches and seeing how wrong I am.
My second thought is, where are the non-Christian churches? I realize that “church” is a Christian-oriented term, and my Google search was “roseville churches”. However, if I search for “roseville mosques”, the closest results are in Sacramento. “roseville synagogues” gives me one hit in neighboring Orangevale. “roseville temples” gives me a Sikh temple in Roseville (as well as a Masonic lodge). I wish I knew some more generic search terms I could use to discover less conventional places of worship.
My third thought is, how does the religious landscape shape a community? Does being a middle class suburban community predispose Roseville toward non-denominational Christianity? If so, why?
So that’s what I’ve got for now. I’ll keep you all posted if I chance upon anything especially interesting. Also, I’d love to hear about your experiences with exposure to religious worship outside your own. What have you learned, and has it been of any use to you?