My cousin has this term. Six Flags over Jesus. He uses it to refer to those churches that are, well more like theme parks than a gathering place of believers. You know the types. The mega churches you pass on the road going, "is that a church or a sports arena?" Now, before I go any further, I must say that this is by no means meant to be a judgement. Just a series of questions that I myself do not know the answers for.
Anyway, yesterday we tried a new church on our church home search. It was unique just like our last adventure. As we pulled onto the church street, we saw people walking, yes walking about a block away. When we got closer, we realized the problem. There was not enough parking. And it wasn't like they didn't have a big lot or something, they did. It was just full. The building was incredible. I had my Six Flags moment going, is that the church? But, it is amazing what $17 million dollars can build...yes, $17 million. Anyway, after finding a spot in the woods across from the church, we headed into the church. Walking in, I felt like I was in a convention center or a hip downtown hotel. The foyer was enormous with high 2 story ceilings, modern furniture, the works. We headed down to drop Grace off at the children's area. As we were walking, we passed the coffee shop that made a Starbucks look like a hole in the wall. We also passed the bookstore, the Barnes and Noble-esque "resource center" where they are now offering gift cards to give to friends. Yes, this church offered gift cards to its own bookstore.
We dropped Grace off, after walking down a series of corridors and having her hands sanitized by the lady in the nursery. Then, it was off to the worship center. Here we were sat in the middle of a row about 10 from the front. I began to get closterphobic as we were scrunched in. The giant 2 video screens on either side of the stage showed the band as the fog machines began to blow and the light show began. The music was good. Almost as good as Gabe back at our church in FL, ok, not almost, but it was good nonetheless. The preaching was fine, but I couldn't seem to concentrate as I scanned the room as the enormity of everything.
I have a lot of questions about churches today. I know they won't be answered anytime soon, well maybe, if I die, but until then, I just have questions. America has begun to want their churches like everything else in their lives. Fast. Technological. Conveinent. This is not necessarily a bad thing that churches are changing in order to reach the needs of the people, but I wonder, when we as a body spend millions on a building, something that will eventually crumble, while people are starving, dying, and in need all over the world, does this please God? Is this His vision for His people's use of the resources He has blessed them with? Do American's need to change their beliefs of what a church needs to give them so that the church can give what God needs them to?
Six Flags over Jesus churches have an important role in our society. They attract the seekers, the ones who aren't sure if they want to believe in God or who have thought of church as the uncool place to be. These churches play an integral role in bringing my generation back into the doors of God's holy place, a place where statistics show those under 30 are less likely to be. They serve a purpose. I just wonder if that purpose could be met without all the bells and whistles.
We may go back to this church, who knows? We have a couple more to try. Rick and I both realize that church isn't the place to get fed, it isn't the place to have all your needs met. The Lord is the only one that can fill that bill so we don't have unrealistic expecatations of our church home. We do seek a place where we think the will of God is being sought, the people are desiring to bring newcomers into their church family, and that we feel will help us grow our child in Christ. I am not sure this place is it, but we will pray, wait, and see.
Here's to getting off the Jesus ride and coming into a true relationship with the Lamb of Peace...
Until next time-