I thought if I arrived for worship about 20 minutes before the service was scheduled to start I would be there in plenty of time. I was wrong. Even though Enon Tabernacle, which can be found at www.enontab.org, has a very large parking lot it was full and all the on-the-street parking near this Philadelphia mega congregation was taken. I circled the church and went back to a shopping center nearby to park. The distance from my car to the worship center was almost a half mile.
I was expected. An associate pastor met me and took me to a seat near the front of the worship center that holds several thousand people. The music and celebrative worship of the Triune God was in full swing. The choir of 200 to 250 people and the many instrumentalists were leading a truly inspiring time of worship. Music, scripture, and organized creative movement tastefully engaged the congregation in praise and worship. It was all authentic and inspirational.
The time of pastoral emphasis early in the service and the sermon by Rev. Alyn E. Waller, Senior Pastor, testified to a truly focused congregation that is serious about helping people grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The pastor and congregation call people to Christian responsibility and accountability. As a Baptist I was pleased that in the midst of his sermon that Pastor Waller called for the people as Baptists to be embraced by the concept of “soul competency” which highlights each person’s accountability before God.
The time of giving tithes and offerings was a serious part of worship as row-by-row people were directed forward to place their offering in containers held by volunteers at the front of each aisle.
The time of invitation at the end of the service brought many people forward to the altar. Volunteer counselors eased next to each person to embrace them, dialogue with them, and pray with them. It appeared that around 50 people responded this day.
Enon Tabernacle knows what it is doing. It has vision plus intentionality. It is well organized in ways that support genuine worship of the Triune God and great fellowship with one another. One indication of this intentionality and organization is that when I casually asked an associate pastor how many of the people who came forward at the invitation time were probably first time professions of faith, he said they average between 52 and 53 percent. They know. They count. People matter.
It takes a lot of great organization and volunteers to make a congregation like this run smoothly. After worship I met with two staff members to go over logistics for a meeting of the North American Baptist Fellowship I led at the church later in the week. One was their director of operations.
I asked him some behind-the-scenes questions. He indicated they have 12 paid, uniformed security guards in and the around the church on Sunday mornings. In addition they have 20 security volunteers. Further, I probed to see how many total people it takes for this congregation of more than 6,000 in attendance to open its doors on Sunday mornings and have people in place to take care of various needs. The answer between paid staff, contract persons, and volunteers is around 300-350. It is easy to see how really bad weather and significant holidays such as Christmas occurring on a Sunday can make it difficult for congregations like Enon to function.
During the week that followed Enon’s associate pastor for missions and evangelism participated in the North American Baptist Fellowship’s Disaster Response Network meeting. From his conversation it was obvious that Enon is deeply involved in various missions and evangelism efforts that go beyond their highly successful and significant worship services.
Part of their outreach is a virtual Enon connection available on their web site at www.venontab.org. This allows them to reach out to thousands of additional people. They also live stream their worship services on their web site. This live streaming is but one aspect of a deep commitment to technology.
Yes, Enon Tabernacle rocks! It is not just in worship that they rock, but also in everything they do as a Christ-centered, faith-based, missional community.