A few years ago I endured a very painful parting of ways with a church. At the time I left, I felt judged, betrayed, used and completely burned out. I was at a point where I did not want anything to do with any church as an organization. There was no way I was going to put any of my gifts and talents out there to be used and abused again. I had a rather bitter attitude toward organized religion - a sentiment I have found many people share.
I did, however, realize the value of participating in worship with other believers. It matters for me spiritually and is a significant contributor to my spiritual growth and continued strength. And I am admonished in Hebrews not to neglect meeting together with other believers. We are not made to go it alone, no matter how hurt or angry we are with a particular church. I decided to try one of the biggest churches around - Northridge ( which, fyi, has three campus locations - Brighton/Howell, Ann Arbor/Saline and the main campus located in Plymouth). I chose the Brighton/Howell campus because it was the closest.
My goal was to attend Northridge - and because it was so big - I would be invisible and could simply attend, worship God with other believers and leave, without being used or abused or overworked. The very first day I attended I was captured by the uplifting worship and just being among such a large group of fellow believers. God was present as we sang and worshiped and I spent some time just allowing His presence to wash over me and fill me as I listened to hundreds of voices joining together in praise.
What an amazing and healing experience that was! Pastor Brad Powell delivered a challenging message and I was very happy and blessed I had gone. Over the course of the next several months I attended Northridge in anonymity, although I did join a small group. That was yet another healing step because the leaders and members of that group accepted me and cared for me and prayed for me and loved me at such a low point in my life. The amazing worship, powerful teaching by Pastor Brad and encouraging small group study helped me turn a corner and melted away my bitterness and pain.
An interesting aspect of Northridge in Brighton/Howell is the weekly message from Pastor Brad is delivered via a video presentation. All the music and worship is live and exciting - and followed by the message which is broadcast on a big screen. The messages are just as engaging and compelling via the video as they are in person. Inspired teaching is inspired teaching is inspired teaching no matter what the venue is. Besides, I enjoy going to the movies and watching television so it is not really different from that. And there is a campus lead pastor at Brighton/Howell available to the members. Pastor Josh Isenhardt does a fantastic job representing Northridge Brighton/Howell and working to shepherd the people in Livingston County.
Eventually, I decided to volunteer to help with the children in the Sunday morning program - Discovery Island. On the first day I observed the program, I was asked to shadow the small group leader for 4th and 5th grade girls and I was hooked! I became a small group leader for some very delightful and entertaining girls. The director of Discovery Island, Delaney, is energetic, interesting, caring and fun. She is a great young leader and her thoughtful concern for all the children and adults she ministers to is a blessing to behold.
While I was delighting in the various ministries at Northridge for adults, my daughter Maddy got involved with the youth group where she met some very wonderful leaders and students. Their love and acceptance played a role in her healing and strength. There were so many opportunities for her to get involved - she even participated in a missions’ trip - her very first one!
Overall, I highly recommend Northridge Church, if you are in the process of looking for a church. Although I have never visited the Ann Arbor/Saline campus - I have attended both Brighton/Howell and Plymouth and was incredibly blessed at each venue.
God is working at Northridge and maybe that is where you need to be?