Church emphasizes gospel teaching, welcoming anyone
Claps and cheers come up from the audience as two singers, a drummer and keyboard player lead the congregation into song.
In yellow letters, the words, “We’ve come to praise him/And lift his holy name/ Make a joyful noise/ Unto the Lord.” People sing while swaying and clapping along to the beat.
This is the scene at Word Aflame United Pentecostal Church, 6901 82nd St. An energy seems to take over the church members in song, prayer and worship. They stand to sing without being asked. They sway, clap, even jump while singing the upbeat lyrics of songs.
Worship is alive with “Amen!” and “Praise him!” shouts during pastor Ron Cruddas and assistant pastor Harley Hunt’s talks.
But inside the sanctuary is not the only place to find a living energy. Smiling ushers open doors and welcome people as they walk into the church.
Barbara Boswell, a member of the church who said she knew no one when she first came, described her church as her family.
“When you’re happy, they’re happy,” she says. “I could call them 24 hours a day, and they would be there for me.”
One of the best ways to observe the family unity of this church is to see members eat together. Take a recent dinner honoring high school graduations, for example. After the evening service, members of the congregation gather in the dining area and talk nonstop. Pulling a member away from a conversation is like pulling two away. Whoever one member is talking to, a friend talks to as well.
“It’s the people that are here,” says Kenny Allen. “This is a group, integrated-type church right here, where anyone is welcome here. Anyone.”
While Allen is talking, a little girl sitting next to him looks up and smiles. When he notices her looking, he smiles and pinches her food-filled and smiling face.
He is the Sunday school superintendent and handles other jobs at the church, too.
“Kids today learn a lot from TV,” Allen says. “The only thing they actually learn, pretty much everything they learn, is from that TV. You put them in Sunday school, you put them around a bunch of little kids, you open up their mind a little bit: what growing up is about, and what right and wrong is.”
Mission and teaching
After the basic Bible principle Sunday school learning, the worship leader teaches the gospel.
Pastor Cruddas says the mission of the church is to lead and grow the church through teaching the gospel.
“Our mission has always been the whole gospel to the whole world,” he says.
How does he help contribute to this mission?
“A partial gospel does not help anybody,” he says, shaking his head. “And that’s one of the things that we find throughout the years, that many have left the old past of the apostles. So we continue to teach and preach the same doctrine that they preached.”
These efforts to teach the full gospel are what Danita Sudderth likes best about the church.
“There are so many aspects covered here that a lot of places don’t cover,” Sudderth says. “And that’s why it makes it very special to me.”
Remember the congregation
Cruddas finds ways to be near his congregation. During the June 8 evening service, he talks while walking down the stairs from the stage, walks in front of congregation members and back up the stairs. He looks at his audience, breaking eye contact for a few seconds to check his footing on the stairs. On the stage, he stays long enough to finish his point before walking back onto the floor near members again with another point.
He also interacts with his congregation. During his talk about God’s healing, saving, helping and blessing, he asks the audience who feels blessed. He rouses their cheers when he talks of a conversation with God.
During the lesson that night from Mark 5:1-13, Harley Hunt reads aloud from his Bible. Cruddas interjects, “Amen!” and “Praise him!” and other shouts meant to emphasize what is read.
Both made a point of interacting with the congregation, praying over people and talking to them.
“The power of preaching is probably one of the most instrumental aspects of reaching a lost world,” Cruddas says.
He believes the church is unique to Lubbock because of one thing:
“What makes us unique is we hold fast to the apostles’ doctrine in every measure,” he says. “In a new, modern age that we live in, men are more comfortable following after their own ideals rather than holding true to the established word of God. Word Aflame does not vary from those truths written in the word of God.”
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