On a stretch of Route 9 in the little town of Castleton, NY we saw the House of Praise for the first time. Boldly standing high up and cross borne, this massive complex of white buildings shone brightly with its solar paneled roof. I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:14 as He explained what His church will look like. “You are the light of the World. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” There is no hiding this church. We were greeted with warm smiles as we walked in and were handed a welcome packet that included a book on prayer, a giant candy bar and a coupon for a free beverage at their café. Sally Jo offered to take us on a tour and brought us down a hall, so creatively decorated with hand painted cartoon characters, to see the Children’s wing. I liked how the Children’s Church and the Main Sanctuary both study the same theme to encourage family devotions and spirited conversations. The Children’s ministry is headed by Pastor Joanne Dean and the Youth Director is Dave Hulett. They have a safe, fun, memorable, action packed time with the children. They even have an indoor playground! Your kids will ask you to come back.
The service began promptly at 10 am. The contemporary music was spirit filled and they asked people to come up to the front with prayer needs. People lined the altar, some with arms raised and some kneeling. I noticed a young man about the age of 16 standing by the keyboard player. Pastor Lon pointed out to me that Hunter was being trained up to serve on the worship team and was “saved” just a few months earlier. It was wonderful to see him play on one of the songs and to witness a church raise up the younger generation.
Pastor Lon posed several questions in His message entitled “WHY” including “Why does God allow suffering?” and “Is my suffering because of my sin?”. He gave solid, Biblical answers to these questions, and then he filled it with scripture references and application to our lives. He also had detailed notes distributed to the congregation to help us remember the message in order to bring positive change to the church. Pastor Lon was well studied, articulate, interesting, genuine, creative, confident and yet humble. It was a serious and powerful message, but with just the right touch of humor. Pastor Lon is an accomplished orator, theologian, administrator and team builder. Everything here was done with an excellence seen only when faith is working through love (Gal. 5:6). What an honor to know Pastor Lon, a man who has given up a life of great prosperity in the world to serve and prosper God’s Kingdom.
Afterwards I went into the café to get my free drink. They had a full menu of coffee and specialty drinks, resembling a Starbucks atmosphere. As I enjoyed my coffee and fellowship with Pastor Lon, his wife, and several others, I was pleased to see so many church members lingering around, enjoying each other’s company in the café.
House of Praise is a welcoming, creative, well balanced church with a strong focus on discipleship and fellowship. They are very engaged with their Connect Groups, with 11 groups this Fall to choose from at various locations. It is a good way to make new friends, build healthy Biblical relationships and connect to God. You can sign up online via their website where you can find information on the numerous ministries they support. They also have a Creative Team comprised of staff and a team of creative volunteers led by Pastor Lon Dean. The most outlandish ideas can be given to the team and they make it happen to impact people and bring God’s Word to life. They meet annually to brainstorm and some of the results have been: Super Heroes that flew high across the entire congregation on a 150’ Zip Line, gigantic dinosaurs that move across the stage, live horses, 75 Minions popping out of walls and ceiling panels, a life sized wrestling ring in the middle of the sanctuary, and a DeLorean car for a Back to the Future theme.
And now I pose this question to you…WHY not consider visiting this church? You will be glad you did.
Church Page – http://noperfectpeoplehere.com
By Donna Hansen Munafo
(Contributing writers Michael & Pat Frati)