"The skits and songs don't always resolve an issue," says Mr. Lamp. "They're meant to get people to reflect; to get our members talking and people sharing among themselves how they've faced these problems. If you are going to reach our culture today with God's message, you've got to speak their language. Music is the universal language of our culture today."
Columbia resident Ron Jones, 35, is among Valley Brook's new faithful. It was the quality of Valley Brook's music that proved the initial magnet for Mr. Jones. Raised a Roman Catholic, Mr. Jones says he had stopped attending church years ago. He found services laborious.
"Back then, I'd rather rearrange my sock drawer than go to church," recalls Mr. Jones, a mortgage banker. He reached a point where he didn't even think he had a spiritual need that needed fulfillment.
"I would go out drinking and carousing, my language was pretty rough, and I thought these born-again Christian types were people who couldn't deal with the realities of life," Mr. Jones recalls. "But I kept feeling there was a void in my life; I couldn't place what it was, but it was definitely there."
That's changed since his involvement with Valley Brook.
"My temperament has softened and I feel fulfilled spiritually. I've also found people I can build strong friendships with at the church. To me it's really an amazing development in my life."
Mr. Jones says he attended a Valley Brook service one Sunday at the behest of a guitar player who told him he played at church events.
"I really enjoy good music and I was just bowled over by the Valley Brook performance," recalls Mr. Jones. "I started going simply to listen to the music. Before I knew it, I was listening to what the pastor or one of the speakers had to say and remember thinking, 'This person is speaking to me.' "
Mr. Lamp says the experience is shared by others.
"To be honest, we have people who come to a service or two and tell us this seems too contrived. And that's fine. We know we're not the church for everybody. But we have a lot of people who tell us we're reaching them in a way no other church has.
"We just feel a lot of churches today aren't speaking to a lot of people in a way they find relevant. That's why we started the church; we didn't feel our own churches were speaking to us."