Nexus Church Review
This Sunday I am venturing into a Pentecostal church – Nexus Church in Everton Park.
Like many of these churches, Nexus Church doesn’t explicitly self-identify as Pentecostal. Most just identify as ‘non-denominational’ (not part of a major group such as Catholic, Anglican, Uniting).
So, I hear you ask… how do I know that it’s a Pentecostal church? Well let’s play a game… look up your local mega-church’s website and identifying the signs with me:
- Does the church have a catchphrase name with a logo created by a graphic designer? Hillsong, Nexus Church, Majestic and Hope-City are all examples from Brisbane.
- Are there images of a well lit stage with a full band and an adoring crowd? This is not a special event you’re looking at, this is their Sunday morning service.
- Is there a ministry team that is led by a husband and wife couple? Sometimes they are both pastors or maybe just the husband is a pastor and the wife is pictured to affirm their devotion to the traditional concept of marriage.
- Read their ‘About – Beliefs’ section and count the number of times the Holy Spirit is referred to. If it’s more than once, then it’s probably a Pentecostal church. Pentecostals emphasise baptisms by the Holy Spirit and believe speaking in tongues is evidence of this.
- Does the phrase “the Bible is God’s Word. It is accurate, authoritative and applicable” appear? This reflects their belief in Biblical inerrancy and as such they read the Bible literally. It’s also been copied directly from the Australian Christian Churches’ website (a Pentecostal organisation): https://www.acc.org.au/about-us/.
The Sunday Experience
I’ve slept in and missed the 8:30 am service. But good news! This church is youth orientated, so they also have a 10:15 am service that I’ll make.
I arrive and as I walk towards the church I can see a hive of activity at the entrance. There’s a McDonald’s style playground full of children; coffee orders are being shouted over the crowd from the “Alley” cafe and a hundred or so people are chatting. It’s the changeover between the 8:30 and 10:15 am services.
The church itself is attached to a school, Northside Christian College, also established by Pastor Murray Averill. Inside, the stage is set for the show. Like many charismatic churches (think Hillsong) the interior is painted black to allow the lights and projector to light up the stage as best as possible.
It’s an odd feeling – like entering a nightclub in the morning. I feel like the floor should be stickier from the previous night’s party.
The service starts when the worship team take the stage with a call to sing our praises to Jesus. There are around 6 singers, 4 guitarists, a keyboard player and a drummer. Cameras surround the church, projecting the movements of the stage to the audience on the big screens.
I refer to us as an audience rather than a congregation, because this is a performance we’re watching. It has been well rehearsed and planned down to the smallest detail.
The music team play consistently throughout the service, providing mood music for everything. Prayers and calls for the Holy Spirit are backed by rousing, inspirational music. As the announcements are made the team plays coffee shop, elevator style music. For the end of the sermon, the keyboardist returns to the stage to again increase the inspirational tone of the pastor’s conclusion.
It’s a production with a soundtrack. Each song designed to create or enhance a particular feeling.
During the introduction to the service there are several advertisements for the church shown on the projector.
- Text “Give” to this number and receive instructions on how to donate to the church.
- Complete the Connect (contact) form for a free coffee after the service.
- Sign-up to one of the many courses on offer under the brand, Nexus Equip.
- Come along to the festival fun run and food day coming up.
Certainly this church offers people a true community to be part of. I look around at the two hundred or more people seated and see people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. It’s easy to see the appeal of this community for families.
After around 30 minutes, Pastor Murray Averill is invited to the stage to give his sermon. He holds the Bible in his hand the entire time. I’m sure this is to symbolise that the Holy Spirit is guiding his sermon directly from the Bible. It’s a reminder to the audience of his authority to speak on behalf of God.
The Bible reading that forms the focus of today’s sermon is Colossians 3: 5-10. It begins:
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
Oh boy. This is going to be interesting.
Pastor Murray says we can break these sins into categories, but his real focus for this sermon is the danger of sex and lust.
I’m shocked that in a church surrounded by elaborate facilities, he doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on greed. So let’s get back to the evils of sex…
The pastor carefully explains that there is a circle of acceptable sex from God’s perspective and sex within a marriage is in that circle. But sex outside of marriage is definitely also outside the circle and will drive a wedge between you and God.
He provides evidence of this claim by referring to the story of Samson and Delilah. If you’re unfamiliar, in the Bible (Judges 13-16) Samson is a man who was given great strength by God in the form of his long hair. However he is led astray by a Philistine woman, Delilah, who seduces him to discover the secret of his strength, then allows the Philistines to cut his hair while he sleeps.
Pastor Murray reinforces his message by saying:
uncontrolled sexual desire derails our destiny… and distorts God’s image in us.
I’m guessing this guy probably wouldn’t approve of the one night stand I had last week. Somehow though, I remain confident that my ‘destiny’ is unaffected.
For all the modernisation a church like Nexus offers, their message belongs to the dark ages. But when you believe in Biblical inerrancy, then the dark ages is where you are trapped.
Perspectives on sex within the church is a topic much too big for this review and is certainly something I will cover in detail another day. Briefly, I will say that these messages are always meant with the best of intentions, I’m sure. But unfortunately for young people learning what sexuality is all about, it sends the message that you should be ashamed if you are unable to meet these unrealistic expectations. And they are unrealistic. The likelihood that the youth from this church will have sex before marriage is incredibly high. An American study found that 80% of unmarried evangelical Christians between 18 and 29 have had sex. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/are-most-single-christians-in-america-having-sex-56680/).
The sermon jumps through a few more loosely related topics (forgiveness and oddly terrorism), but then returns to the key message: save yourself for marriage kids!
The service finishes and the friendly man sitting next to me invites me to have a coffee outside and encourages me to return another week.
Churches are nothing if not consistent in their hospitality.
However, since I slept in and I need to get my grocery shopping done before the public holiday, I slip out quickly and head home. It has been an interesting, but not surprising experience.
More Information about this Church:
Name Nexus Church | Denomination Non-Denominational (Pentecostal) | Location Everton Park, Brisbane, QLD | Minister Ps Murray Averill | Service Day & Time Sunday 10:15 am | Date 30/04/17
The Nexus Church website: http://mynexus.com.au/
Information about Pentecostal churches: