Monday, July 24, 2006

church visits GR - part 2

I mentioned in yesterday’s post (read below about Saturday night church) that we went to experience a worship phenomenon that is sweeping the nation! I know I made it sound like a dance fad…but in reality I’m talking about video venues.

We drove back to GR Sunday morning to a church where they just completed a massive facility expansion with 3 medium sized worship-designed rooms to complement the main auditorium. The rooms are called the ANNEX (seating about 200), the CHAPEL (seating about 200) and the STUDIO (seating about 400).

When you walk into the church on Sunday morning you can choose between the main auditorium or on of the 3 venues. Each room has a live band and a venue coordinator who serves as the host pastor. After a time of worship music and announcements, the live feed kicks in with the pastor giving a regular message that is broadcast from the main auditorium.

It was a neat experience to sit with a live crowd watching the pastor on a big screen. We laughed together, we clapped together, we followed all of the pastor’s cues. At the end of the message, the pastor prayed as the band came back on the platform. It was really easy to forget that we were listening to someone who was speaking in another room downstairs.

This is becoming a huge phenomenon with large churches starting video venues all across America. Some even use them as satellite campuses enabling their expansion to take place almost like a Starbucks franchise. It allows people to enjoy the quality programming, ministries, serving opportunities and powerful influence of a very large church…while at the same time enjoying the intimacy of a smaller crowd worshiping together in community.

On a side note, their children’s ministry facilities rocked! The registration process for the children was fairly impersonal and the volunteers never really showed any interest in us. But the creative design of their children’s department was top notch. I guess this was another reminder that you can have the fanciest equipment around, but it really comes down to having volunteers trained to smile and engage with people who come through the doors (rather than just going through the motions).

The way that people see Jesus is through the love and care of His people. Please make sure that you go out of your way to make someone feel welcome. Take a stranger under your wing and help them find their way around. You might feel embarrassed to introduce yourself to someone, only to find out that they have been around for years (maybe even serving as one of the pastors or board leaders). But a little embarrassment is nothing compared to the sadness of seeing people slip through the cracks. People come to church on Sunday searching for many different things. But one thing that every person is glad to find is a friend.