On Sundays, the auditorium at New Foundations Charter School is transformed into what looks like a concert venue. Fog is tinted dark blue and purple from the lights, and screens above the stage flash lyrics sung by the five-person band. The audience is on its feet, some with their hands raised in the air, as drums, guitar, keyboard and voice send an uplifting message.
“Receive my worship, all of my worship,” they sing in a service that mixes music with spoken word.
The Block Church recently moved to Northeast Philadelphia and hosts services at 10 a.m. and noon every Sunday. More than 100 people packed into the auditorium at last Sunday’s noon service.
“We have so many distractions in our week, don’t we?” lead pastor Joey Furjanic asked the crowd. “This is a great opportunity to shut down, shut the phone off, and just say, Lord, receive my worship.”
The church recently celebrated its fourth anniversary and has gathered 850 members. It’s a technologically savvy, millennial-driven church that embraces and celebrates diversity. More than 500 people visited the church’s grand opening in the Northeast.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter what you did last night, you’re welcome here,” location pastor Matt Leckie said.
Services run very much like a show, rather than a typical church Sunday. Visitors congregate in the hall to chat and drink coffee. During the service, there’s plenty of mapped out details — music syncs in perfectly with Furjanic’s spoken words, a rattle on the drum or a background singer accentuating his words.
The church has been busy since it opened in Northeast Philly. This week, it is wrapping up its teaching series called the winning series, which attempts to understand what it means to win both spiritually and emotionally. A video featuring a football player attempting to catch a ball repeatedly until he succeeds highlighted the conversation.
“When we win on the inside, it manifests itself on the outside,” Furjanic said.
The church has also gotten started with its community involvement. Leckie said the church hosted a fun and safe Halloween event and gave away candy to over 650 people.
“We don’t just exist in the Northeast, but we’re showing our community that we’re here to serve them and show the love of Jesus to everyone we interact with,” he said.
On Nov. 14, the church will host Team Night, which will give volunteers an opportunity to get more involved. On Nov. 25, the church will host something called “child dedications.” The church doesn’t conduct infant baptisms, Leckie said — baptisms should be an outward expression of a decision an individual made inside.
“Child dedication is our chance as parents to come before the church and have the church pray for us as we publicly declare we’re making Jesus the head of our household,” he said.
First-time visitors received a tumbler as a welcoming gift. One lucky winner in the crowd received a Block-themed hoodie.
Leckie and his wife moved from Oklahoma after hearing about the church and its mission.
“I remember when a fundamental shift happened in our life, and that was the day we decided to get plugged into the church we had been attending for a while,” he said. “We went from being able to be this anonymous person who could disappear in the night to where we were a part of what we were experiencing.” ••