Ask me how many times I went to church this weekend– go ahead, ask me.

This weekend Russ performed at Faith Church in St. Louis, and I went with him.

This doesn’t really happen very often these days since I am usually home with the girls, but you know what? They are now 18 and 14 years old, and they’re more than capable of staying home alone for 48 hours. Or at least that’s what I kept repeating over and over to myself as I sat on a plane winging my way towards the Gateway City and trying not to hyperventilate at the thought of LEAVING MAH BAAAAAABIES!!!

So here’s how this came to be: Our pastors at the Oasis Church (Danny and Jillian Chambers) are good friends with the pastors of Faith Church (David and Nicole Crank). They introduced us to them and we all hung out together and hit it off immediately so it was a big ol’ lovefest blah di blah blah and long story short, (TOO LATE) when Russ was scheduled to go perform at their church David and Nicole graciously invited me to come with him. We stayed with them at their lovely home, and I was delighted to discover that they had a small yappy dog so I immediately felt at home. They also have a 6 year old daughter Ashtyn, who is just a ball of fun, so within the first five minutes I was down on the floor playing with both of them — the weekend was off to a great start!


There was one small detail about our weekend plans that somehow didn’t really sink in. Or maybe I didn’t actually hear it. Or maybe I heard it, but I didn’t think they were serious. Here’s the deal– we went to church SEVEN TIMES IN TWO DAYS! I am not even kidding. Just stop and think about that a minute. We’re talking ME and CHURCH and SEVEN TIMES IN TWO DAYS. What is wrong with this picture? I mean, I go every Sunday and love it, and I knew the services would be really good and everything, but come on. I’m not exactly what you would call the churchiest of churchgoers, and let’s face it– that’s a crapload of church! (she says delicately.)

Now to be fair, nobody made me go to church SEVEN TIMES IN TWO DAYS; in fact David and Nicole assumed that we would maybe choose one service to go to, and the rest of the time we’d just hang out at the house and relax. But then we got there and they were so warm and welcoming, and we exchanged gift baskets for crying out loud… and suddenly the idea of sitting around by ourselves didn’t sound fun at all– hey, if they could do it every weekend, then we could definitely keep up with them for just a couple of days, right?

Wait, it gets even better.

The actual schedule for that whole SEVEN CHURCH SERVICES IN TWO DAYS thing is as follows: One service was on the night we arrived, which was Saturday, then on Sunday morning there were five services, and then Russ would do kind of a mini-concert on Sunday night. And yes, I did say FIVE services on Sunday morning, but here’s the kicker– they’re at two totally different locations! Faith Church was just officially named the 5th fastest-growing church in the country. They outgrew their original facility pretty quickly, so they bought and refurbished another bigger one and now they are kind of outgrowing both of them, so they have to do multiple services– which means David goes back and forth between the two churches, about a 15-20 minute drive, and preaches five times in a row every Sunday. Which would kill a lesser man. Like for instance, ME. But I was up for it, and after hearing David’s great sermon Saturday night I had to agree with Russ who leaned over after it was over and said in my ear, “Yeah– I can hear that five more times.”

I should also mention that on top of their usual SEVEN CHURCH SERVICES IN TWO DAYS, this had been an especially hectic week around Faith Church. On Tuesday evening, the roof fell in at their children’s ministry building! Miraculously, not a single person was injured. An alert children’s minister heard some weird noises and got all the kids out of  the building minutes before the whole thing came down.

So before their houseguests even arrived, David and Nicole’s week had already been just a wee bit full dealing with a major building disaster, local government officials, inspectors, contractors and the media. And that’s before the SEVEN CHURCH SERVICES IN TWO DAYS even started!

Sunday morning dawned bright and glorious, and after some good strong coffee we were off to the dang races. Russ sang one song in each service, so he stuck with David as they raced back and forth across town from service to service. I hung with Nicole– we only ran back and forth a couple of times. Their church staff is incredibly well-organized, they all have their specific areas of expertise and they do everything they can to make things go as smoothly as possible, but honestly, this is a crazy grueling schedule. It was amazing to watch David deliver the same sermon, but somehow manage to slightly change it up enough to keep things fresh and make it feel like he was preaching it for the first time. I have to tell you though, by the end of that fifth service, our collective gospel butts were a-draggin’. We went back to the house long enough to eat massive amounts of Chinese take-out and grab a nap before we headed out for the evening service.

Once a month they have something called ‘Super Sunday’ at this church. They choose a theme of some kind and do all kinds of crazy things like contests and prizes and stuff. It’s a fun family event and they really do it up right. The theme for this particular Super Sunday was “The ’80’s”, so you know, Russ and I fit right in. The worship team had a bunch of oldie songs worked up, and there was a live band and dancers and skateboarders and a costume contest– and yes, this IS still a church, it’s just a really fun one. It totally reminds me of our beloved Oasis Worship Centre in Nashville, and I completely understand why our pastors and these pastors are crazy about each other.

When David introduced Russ and brought him up onstage, the two of them were having so much fun together they ended up just sitting around talking– and then every once in a while Russ would stand up and sing something. It was a great night, the place was packed out and the audience was rowdy. It’s been a while since I have actually seen Russ perform more than the couple of songs a night he does as part of the Homecoming tour, so it was a real treat to hear him sing some of his songs from the 80’s and 90’s and watch him absolutely rock the house down! The boy’s still got it.

There was a lot of this going on between David and Russ all night…

Also this…

Annnnd some more of this–

They took turns telling stories–

I had a brief Vanna White moment when Russ asked me to hand him his notebook–

And by the end of the evening it looked like David and Nicole had definitely managed to turn the week around and end it on a high note.

It was a great weekend. Russ decided he wants us to do this more often– as much as I love our family trips, it was kind of good to travel together again just the two of us, like the old days. The girls survived beautifully, no wild parties, drunken tattoos or arrests, and they were actually really happy to see us when we finally got home. I am crazy tired, but I just couldn’t wait to show you guys all of these great pictures, and of course, to make sure you understand that I totally went to church SEVEN TIMES IN TWO DAYS.

Because I knew once you picked yourself up off of the floor and stopped snickering, you’d all be really proud of me.

**These excellent concert photos are courtesy of  Linda Roufa.

21 Responses

  1. delightedabroad

    Tori, of course I’m proud of the two of you and impressed and stunned and delighted…:-)I guess you are bathed in God’s cornucopia of blessings. And I’m also glad you had time together as a couple; can only imagine a little how precious these times are.

  2. delightedabroad

    Oh, btw, how many times did you go to church?????

  3. Nova Scotia Mama

    That is wonderful news that they were able to get all the kids out before the roof collapsed. I bet travelling together brought back a lot of memories for you two. Pictures were great….way to go Vanna!!

  4. chillybean

    ummm…if the priest at my church was a cutie patootie like Pastor David…perhaps I would go to church seven times in one weekend as well. Might make the homiliy just a little easier to focus on…

  5. Gramma Jac

    We stand, we stand, in awe of you!!!! LOL! Great photos and it sounds fun!

    The end of this month my husband and I are taking off for two days together (hope things go OK at home–no wild parties, tattos, or arrests here either, plus DD had BETTER take good care of my yappy dogs)and we’re going to a GVB concert!

  6. phwd737

    Tori, How awesome is that!!!! Loved the blog, loved the pictures!!! Looks like y’all had so much fun!!! Wow, don’t know how Pastor David handles that kind of schedule!!! Would love to hear Russ sing again…..Blessings!!! :)

  7. okdebby

    Well, I’m impressed! To attend seven services with 90% of them being basically the same . . . I don’t think I would have made it through all five on Sunday morning. That must be quite an exciting church with the Holy Spirit making His presence felt. The pictures make me wish I could attend there.


    I, uhhhhhh, well……………ummmmmmmmm…maybe I’m being the usual extremist here…or, um, uhhhhhhhh….hope I dont make anybody mad at me, but, well……….why would anyone put a picture of the Blues Brothers in the front of their sanctuary? no matter what type of night they are having?

    LONG!!!! We need that sometimes.

  9. sweet lil' redheaded dumbass

    Can we PLEASE get Babybloomr t-shirts made that say “That’s a crapload of church!”?

  10. tori

    delightedabroad: It truly was a great time- and honey, I totally had those sermon points down by the end of the day!

    delightedabroad: Thanks for asking– SEVEN!!!!!

    Novia Scotia Mama: There were even scarier pictures of the roof collapse, but I couldn’t find them online– and the pastor’s own daughter was in that building minutes before it went down!

    chillybean: Ha! Yeah, he’s darling, and his wife is even better– she’s about 6 feet tall with legs a mile long!

    Gramma Jac: GOOD for you two for grabbing some time alone– have a great time at the concert!

    phwd737: Honestly, I don’t know he does it either. Hopefully it will not go on indefinitely, they are gonna have to find a bigger place that will hold everybody.

    okdebby: Well, I didn’t sit through ALL of the Sunday morning services, more like part of each! And he did change the message up just a little every time– I didn’t get bored!

    DELIVEREDJEPARKER63: The Blues Bros. cutout was just for the 80’s themed night, it’s not part of their usual decor! They also had a PacMan game and giant boom boxes up there– it’s a new day, girl! This church manages to blend pop cultural references seamlessly with ancient Biblical truth– it makes the message much more relatable to younger or brand new churchgoers without compromising the integrity of the Word. Also? It’s a whole lot of fun! (Thanks for the compliment– it’s my handy dandy spiral curling iron!)

    sweet lil’ redheaded dumbass nephew o’ mine: Yes. Yes, we can. Annnnd you just guessed your Christmas present.

  11. rachelbaker


    Now, thats impressive. I was practically brought up in Church and even I don’t think I could manage that.

    Thanks for sharing your weekend with us. The photos are great – I love to see your husband laughing.

    So remember there are at least 2 places in England that you and Russ are welcome to come and stay – although your girls are allowed too.

  12. LindaB

    There’s only one way in the world I could sit through SEVEN services——-that’s if Russ Taff was singing! Then, it wouldn’t be a problem……though I might get a little hungry!

    Isn’t it wonderful to find out, after years of raising kids and making them your highest priority, that you still enjoy being alone with your spouse? And a weekend away with each other actually turns out to be TOTALLY FUN! EVEN if you have to attend SEVEN church services to do it! But I’m sure the services were uplifting and edifying.

    Tori, you looked amazing……and so happy!!

  13. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Oh my goodness, I love it! It is so exciting to hear about the churches that are making a concentrated effort to reach the young people today. Sadly, if you look in churches today, too many of them are void of anyone under 60 and that is scary because where is the life of the church?….and who is putting aside the “well, we’ve never done it that way before” and going out to bring in those young folks? I am hearing about a few larger churches having a separate Contemporary Service for the younger crowd and that thrills me….but we need more of it. And, we need churches like the one you went to, Tori, where the kids can have fun together, playing games, etc. You’ve got to feed the whole kid with Bible study, games, food. They’re worth it, for goodness sake. It reminds me of Keith Green’s song, “Asleep in the Light.”

  14. LindaB

    I heartily agree, Barb! We need more churches that cater to young people because they are the voice of Christianity tomorrow. They will carry the message of Christ long after we’re gone. And whatever we can use from our culture to get their attention so that they may hear and respond to the message of God and His love for mankind is a good thing.

    And God forgive us for everytime the phrase “..but we’ve never done it that way before” has turned away young folks and their ideas and their music from the church…….and the Body of Christ.

  15. rockin robyn

    7 times!!! Wow! Tori – did you say that roof caved in because you would be going to church 7 times? LOL!

    What an awesome church and really neat pastor. Now that is a pastor working for his congregation. There is a need and he is there to fill souls. That is a very special church and it was made even more special because my favorite song preacher served there as well.

    What a really neat time. God gave you that time together as a gift — just to remember younger days and to see your wonderful husband do to those hearts what he is out there doing for us when we get a chance to see him sheppard to us – all to share the greatness of our wonderful and awesome God.

    Thank you soooo much for sharing Russ with his fans out here. He serves a great need, as well as all the southern gospel performers. “it’s just an echo from the other side – and they call it gospel music”!!!

  16. xtremesq

    I am a member at Faith Church St.! I soooooo loved having you and Russ there!
    He was as wonderful as he was back in the 80’s when I first heard him! Thank you for blessing us this past weekend!

    What Tori didn’t tell you was that both of our pastors had both been out of town during the week speaking or attending other conferences/churches. Pastor Nicole left and flew all nite to get back to St.Louis to check out the church damage and start the rebuild process. They are truly amazing servants for our great Father! I love our church family so much. Everyone is always welcome there.

    Loved Sunday evening and Russ’ stories. I wasn’t able to find a ride there so I watched the whole evening online. It was so moving and so real. Please tell Russ thank you for sharing.

  17. djohnson59

    Hi Tori!
    Love your blog space. I’m a big fan of Russ now after seeing him at Faith Church. I just started attending Faith Church with my family a couple of months ago. I had been observing Pastor David from the web at awhile sooner. I am a very skeptical type of person and I was very cautious in getting to hyped up when I first saw David preaching. My wife and kids loved him and Nicole right away. I thought he was cool but really didn’t feel like this is the way God meant for Pastor’s to be in the pulpit. I can say after sitting and listening to messages and seeing the Holy Spirit move more than I have ever observed it in any Church with such size that I have moved from center position to fully backing this Pastor. I love the mix of how they are drawing new visitors into the Church and winning them over for the Lord by meeting them on their level. It’s not like going for a church fix anymore, we feel a part of a much larger God thing. In case anyone isn’t aware, Pastor David is scripturally comedic, but one of the most dedicated men of God I have come to know. Every message I have sat and listened too is so relevant to every listener. You will hear Jesus name mentioned dozens of times throughout any service. Anyone going through tests, should drop in on-line and you will truly be blessed.
    God bless you and Russ and thanks for the great weekend!
    St. Charles, Mo.

  18. ScoutingPrincess38

    I absolutely loved your blog. Very funny and I had a smile the entire read.=] I am so glad you enjoyed your visit even with 7 services in 2 days!

  19. tori

    rachelbaker: SEVEN!!! (And don’t tempt me– you know how I feel about your country!)

    LindaB: You know, it was fun to be back on the road with my old partner in crime… :)

    Momma Lloyd: You are SO right– that phrase has quenched the spirit in way too many churches!

    rockin’ robyn: It did remind me of just how good he is at what he does– and you’re right, it IS serving a need. And it does him a world of good as well!

    xtremesq: WELCOME– and thank you so much for joining us! Yeah, it was QUITE a week for David and Nicole, bless their sweet hearts.

    djohnson59: WELCOME– and I totally agree with everything you said about your church. It is bridging a lot of gaps, in my opinion, and doing it with great spirit and style!

    ScoutingPrincess38: Thank you so much– I DID enjoy it, but I tell you what, I don’t think I could do it every week!

    To all of you new Faith Church friends– PLEASE keep coming back– we have a great little community here at ‘Bloomr Nation!

  20. bettyrwoodward

    Sounds like a good weekend. Now Rachel has moved up north you have places to stay in very different parts of England! Please do be tempted!

  21. traceyhud2

    Tori…I’m just catching up on this blog entry and had to respond. I am from Missouri and we live a little over an hour from Faith Church. We drive passed it pretty often and have always wanted to take in a service there. (not sure I can find one that fits my schedule though..they should add more times. HAHA) I have followed David and Nicole on Twitter for quite some time now. After reading your blog, I am more than ready to attend a service there. One service to begin with though. HA!

    Thanks so much for writing about your trip. Wish I would have known that you and Russ were going to be there…Hope you enjoyed our state!


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