I took my family to worship at the Relevant Church in Ybor City today. Ybor is located in North Tampa. Its sort of like a French Quarter district but raunchier and with much better cigars. We really enjoyed our time with them. They’ve rented a building right on 7th Ave/Broadway Ave. I had my bachelor party in Ybor at the Columbia which is just a few blocks up from where they are. The building is called The Italian Club. They have three stories: the middle floor is there welcoming area, just down from there is where they do their children’s ministry, and then up on the second floor is where they have their stage area (see the pic above). The pastor is best known for his 30 Day Sex Challenge that got him national exposure. He did a great job talking in a “relevant” way about the craving we all have for community and how we can find it in the body, but that realistically it takes work.
I’ve been listening to his worship band on their website for some time now. Actually before they hit it big with the 30 Day Sex Challenge exposure I used to go to their site and just loop their worship music. The people we meet very welcoming and the refreshment area outside the venue was not your typical simple coffee setup. They had all sorts of good eats set up on an elevated counter area. I got to meet the lead pastor, Paul, on the way out and thanked him for his message before getting teased about being an ex-church staffer by his wife. They definitely have a good time with themselves and their setting and it totally showed throughout their setup, including the video’s they created. Good people all around and totally worth checking out. I think Paul is one of the funniest preachers I’ve seen in a while and he really connects well with what’s happening TODAY, not yesterday.
The first church we visited in Tampa was Watermark where my best man from my wedding worships. If you’re a regular at Sets’N’Service then you’ve heard the name Watermark before. I’ve got a lot respect for what this body is doing. The worship experience was bar none one of the best worship styles I’ve participated in as a Christian. Miles ahead of any other team in the way they do it. Their setup is very simple, and the time is used well. There’s meet and greet and hangout on the front end, then a time of worship music that is done on old Persian styled rugs as they stand in a circle and we as the audience make a semi circle around them just a few rows deep. The stage is majestic, yet shabby and dilapidated like the building which adds the realism that this is an old and beautiful Christian practice that is still carried on in fresh new ways. The lyrics are great, you can order their music at their webpage.
Tommy, the lead/solo pastor’s message was out of Matthew and it was filled with biblical-theological insights, practical challenges, culturally funny notes, and more and then it all wraps up with communion together. I’m meeting up with Tommy latter this week to hear about what’s happening in the Tampa Bay area. The setting is in an old music studio that has a stage down below and the recording studio above. Its in a tough part of town, Nebraska Avenue where a lot of the notorious crime in Tampa takes place is close by which again adds to the ruggedness of it all. It leaves you with one impression – they value being real.