Grace Fellowship Church in Lawton, Oklahoma: Home away from Home
Find out everything you want to know about Grace Fellowship Church in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Last year I made a move I thought I would never make. I stopped going to my beloved Roman Catholic church and checked out a new one. Granted, I didn’t just up and go one day out of the blue. I’d had a number of doubts about the Catholic Church for a long time and my girlfriend attended there and, after a number of conversations about religion and church and who would go where, etc., I agreed to go with her. I didn’t think I would like it much, but I knew that I needed to at least give it a chance. After all, I had two very good reasons to do so. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it wasn’t what I expected!
A long time ago I used to make jokes about religion (at the time I was a self-proclaimed pagan, practically atheist). “If I ever have to step foot inside a Christian church, it’ll be a Catholic one, because they’re the most un-Christian of them all.) That was my mantra. That was my “out.” Well, fast forward a few years and, wouldn’t you know it, I found myself actually joining the Roman Catholic Church after a long period of soul-searching. For a while it was great. I loved the structure. I loved the somber atmosphere. I loved the feeling of finally being “home.” But, unbeknownst to me at the time, something was missing. It took almost 8 years before I figured out what it was. What was missing was God’s touch. Sure, the Catholic Church claimed to follow God and, in their own way, they do. But there was no personal aspect to it. It was a lot of reciting of prayers verbatim, explaining to outsiders over and over how much we “really don’t worship Mary,” and what is lovingly referred to as the “Catholic Workout” (stand up, sit down, kneel, sit, kneel, stand, kneel, stand..on and on).
Then I hit a really rough patch in my life and began to question the Catholic Church, my faith, and God Himself. It was then that I began to notice little things.. things that I had taken for granted for years. Things like how much emphasis really IS put on Mary. Things like church dogma and doctrine that really doesn’t hold any biblical weight (mortal vs. venial sins, confession, the rosary, Mary being the queen of heaven). It was then that I decided that, if I ever did make it back into God’s good graces, I wouldn’t find it there.
Last year I began dated a wonderful woman, who happened to not be Catholic. In many relationships this would cause issues, primarily of two different “home churches” and time split between them, or a family split and worshipping separately. We all know what the Bible says about that, right? “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25). Thankfully I’d already become disillusioned with the Catholic faith, and had no qualms joining her at her church. One of the claims I used to make for not going to a protestant church was the noise. “I like it quiet, calm and peaceful,” I said. “I like the ‘old style’ organ music,” I mused. “I get enough chaos in my daily life, and I just don’t need it during church as well.” These are just a few of the “excuses” I made to stay.
Guess what? It wasn’t what I expected at all. The first time I went, sure. I was a little nervous. I didn’t really know what I had gotten myself into, but I was going to see it through. And now?
I am Catholic no more. Sure, according to the Church I will be a Roman Catholic for eternity. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic. But I reject that teaching. I have free will. God Himself gave it to me. And I choose to use that free will to do what I believe God has called me to do.
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”
Lately this scripture has been on my mind. It feels like God calling me to leave the Roman Catholic church. Who am I to argue?
So, that’s my story. That’s why I found myself at Grace Fellowship. So what’s the deal with this church? What’s it like? Well, listen up, boys and girls, and I’ll give you the scoop.
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
In the Catholic church I had gotten used to a short “sermon” (called a homily). While it generally related to whatever scriptures were read during that Mass, it often lacked substance and usually lasted only a few minutes. That is not the case at Grace Fellowship. The “sermons” there are nothing like Roman Catholic homilies, and to be quite honest, nothing like what I’ve seen in other protestant churches either. I’ve yet to see anyone start yelling “hellfire and brimstone” during a service. The teachings come straight out of scripture, the pastors are straight to the point, and they don’t sugar-coat anything. That’s quite a refreshing thing for me. I don’t have to try and weed through lots of “church dogma” to try and pick out the miniscule bit of God’s actual word.
Laid Back Atmosphere
There are no hard-backed pews. There are no ushers telling you where to sit. There are no altar servers or robed choirs or organists with bow-ties. There is nobody telling you that you must wear “business casual” to service or else you can’t attend because otherwise you’re breaking God’s heart and it is disrespectful to God’s house. What there is, on the other hand, is a “come as you are, sit where you want” attitude. I’ve seen men in khaki shorts, sneakers and polo shirt. I’ve seen people in jeans. I’ve seen some in slacks and button-up shirt. There IS no dress code policy.
There is no “passing the plate” like you find in the Catholic church. In fact, there used to be times when they’d do it more than once in a single service. At Grace Fellowship, there are alternative options to tithing or giving. If you want to give you can text or do it online. You’re not “put on the spot” by being handed a brass collection plate when you’re just not able to give at that time.
From the moment you walk into Grace Fellowship it feels like home. Hit the door, walk upstairs, grab some coffee, and find a seat. Nothing to it.
Not Your Typical Worship Music
Remember all that “noise” I was afraid of? Well, turns out it’s not actually “noise.” It’s some of the best live music I’ve heard in a while (I’ve never been to a concert or anything, so to be fair I don’t really have a lot to compare it to, but it sure isn’t boring old organ music.) Grace Fellowship features a life band, complete with guitars, keyboards, drums, and multiple vocalists. I’ve been a handful of times and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the same song twice. I’ve yet to hear any of the “standard hymns,” either. In fact, I’m convinced that the band writes their own music. And it sounds wonderful. It’s a little loud, sure, but honestly, at 9:30 on a Sunday morning, when I’m exhausted and have to be at work in a couple hours, that’s quite a pick-me-up.
- Caring, welcoming atmosphere
- Real worship, not scripted by-the-book dogma
- Focused on God, not on Mary, the saints, or made-up church doctrine
I was impressed with Grace Fellowship the first time I went there. Because of my work schedule I don’t get to go every week, but I’ve recently made some moves at work that allow me to at least make it to church “part time.” Every time I go, it just feels like home. I feel comfortable there. I don’t feel like I’m a pawn in a big game of sorts like I did in the Catholic Church, just blindly playing follow-the-leader and doing whatever the deacon/priest/bishop/archbishop/pope says I have to do.
What about you? Do you attend church somewhere? If so, where? What do you like about it? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.