(It's the weeeeeeekend--time for some fun. I got this sad-but-maybe-sorta-kinda-true article from Larknews. To visit that site, click here. And remember; it's not true, just sorta-kinda-maybe. You know--satirical. Larknews is a sort of Christian 'Mad Magazine,' or a cousin of The Wittenburg Door.)
Mini-church acts mega
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — On Sunday morning at Horizon Christian Fellowship, a 15-member worship band cranks out praise songs and the pastor preaches with the aid of stadium lighting and jumbo-size screens. But the church, which is only eight months old, has an average attendance of just 28.
"If we build it, we believe they will come," says pastor Rick Allen, 26, a recent Bible college graduate.
Ninety percent of the people who attend the church participate in the service somehow, either in short dramas, humorous video clips or in traditional roles like ushering. This means that at times there is virtually no audience."We sit and listen in shifts," says one woman who is the lighting tech, third camera operator, head greeter and fifth grade Sunday school teacher. Instead of starting a church in some "depressing little storefront," Allen says he decided to rent the biggest space he could find. "It reflects our confidence in where we’re headed," he says.
But even at peak usage, the warehouse-style facility dwarfs the Sunday morning crowd. Large, empty corridors and ghostly Sunday school rooms sit unused. With the sermon and music being piped through the facility, it feels like an abandoned shopping mall.
In the massive nursery area, five kids have their pick of toys in a sprawling play room. The high-tech child care includes video surveillance and child-specific beepers, but few actual children. "Attendance is down right now," says the nursery attendant, who is also the church secretary, missions trips coordinator and assistant to the youth pastor. "Usually we have eight kids, but the Hensons are out of town."
Allen expresses "a little frustration" that he hasn’t yet attracted the congregation he wants. Some in town say the size discrepancy makes the church feel "creepy." But Allen says his market research has identified the perfect place for a mega-church where the population was underserved. He remains confident that it will fill up.
"God honors faith," he says. "He won’t leave this place empty." •