"When the music fades/ All is stripped away/ And I simply come, longing just to bring/ Something that's of worth," sang Trevor Davis. "I'll bring you more than a song..." But songs were exactly what Davis and his band brought, as part of Canyon Springs Church's Summer Concert Series. Clad in proper hipster attire -- snug polo shirt, big belt buckle, a mop of hair clinging to his head -- Davis played, sang, and twisted with abandon: sharp guitar picking, staccato chords, and vocals that veered between a breathy croon and an anguished falsetto. "There's a line in the Bible that says we have to be clever as serpents," said Davis. "This song is played on a secular radio station. I tried to make it kind of crafty -- 'Is that about a girl named Grace?' But once they're into it, then they get it." "Grace -- she has never left me/I try but I can't resist you, you keep on hookin' me like a fish/Oh, Grace..."
Pastor Hawkins's wife, Jilane, took the stage, which stood just two feet away and one foot up from the congregation filling the elementary school gymnasium. She announced that baptisms would be held later that day at a congregant's home. "If...you have made a commitment to Christ and yet you have never publicly shown that by getting baptized, we would like to have you come." (Canyon Springs practices baptism by immersion.) Baby-dedication, she then announced, would be held next week.
Canyon Springs' motto is "Real Fun. Real People. Real Answers," and a goofy strain of humor ran through the service. "Jack is going to be speaking on finding comfort in the face of fear," said Jilane. "One of the things that can help us when we're children is to have something soft and warm..." Women came to the front of the congregation and began tossing tiny teddy bears into the crowd "to bring you comfort. Just a reminder that Canyon Springs cares and God cares!" she cried over the cheers and squeals.
Pastor Hawkins continued the church's Summer Comfort series. "God put a book in the Bible that is completely dedicated to helping you and me find comfort in difficult times...the book of Psalms." Psalm 27 asks at the outset, "Of whom shall I be afraid?" "When fear comes knocking at your door," asked Hawkins, "what does it look like?" A knock sounded at a stage door off to Hawkins's left. First up -- a punk babysitter, boyfriend in tow. Then a vacuum-cleaner salesman. Then a girl scout selling cookies, a mother-in-law, and a nightmare date from eHarmony bent on a trip to Boomers. The audience roared.
But Hawkins treated more serious fears in his sermon -- fears about children, money, sickness. He examined the fears that David expressed in the Psalm -- fears about physical violence -- "When evil men advance against me." David responded, "The Lord is the stronghold of my life." Said Hawkins, "I'm not telling you that if God's in your life you will never face physical violence. But time and time again in Scripture, God promises His protection. There is a supernatural barrier around us. Maybe sometimes things will happen, but God can protect us from those things."
David wrote, "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." Hawkins: "Some of you, your parents are dead, and you're still trying to get their approval.... God will receive you -- your sins, your mistakes, your successes, your failures.... He loves you just how you are."
Even as he listed his fears, David prescribed the remedy: "One thing I ask of the Lord...that I might dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."
"Folks, if you want to overcome fear, you've got to learn to focus on God, and I'm going to give you one way -- read the book of Psalms. You won't relate to everything, but you will find verses that you will grab hold of." Hawkins also pointed to David's frankness with God -- "'Do not reject me or forsake me.' You have to be authentic with God." And finally, he noted David's patience. "This is so important, David says it twice: 'Wait for the Lord.'"
What happens when we die?
"You get what you've always wanted," says Hawkins. "If you have given your life to Christ and invited him in, then you spend eternity with him in what I would consider paradise...a place where the evil is taken out. Other people, God has offered them a relationship throughout their life, and unfortunately, they continue to say no. When they die, they will get what they have always wanted -- eternity away from God. The Bible puts it as fire and brimstone. I believe...the Bible puts it that way because it's the only way they can describe something that horrible."
Denomination: Evangelical Covenant Church
Address: Worship held at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, 11840 Scripps Creek Drive, Scripps Ranch,
Founded locally: 1998
Senior pastor: Jack Hawkins
Congregation size: 500-600
Staff size: 8
Sunday school enrollment: 175-225
Annual budget: around $600,000
Weekly giving: $11,500
Singles program: no
Dress: dressy-casual -- plenty of button-down shirts and dresses, but also jeans and T-shirts.
Diversity: mostly Caucasian
Sunday worship: 8:45 a.m., 10:30 a.m.
Length of reviewed service: 1 hour, 5 minutes