Last Sunday, I was out of town and visited, what I would term, a megachurch.  I’ll do my best to describe the experience while maintaining a certain level of anonymity for everyone’s sake.  This is going to be lengthy, but I want to give it justice, so hang with me.

The Experience
We drove into the parking lot and were immediately directed to a parking spot by multiple attendants wearing bright orange vests waving matching flags.  When we approached the church building, people with big smiles greeted us, shook our hands, and opened the door for us.  Inside, the lobby was elaborately but nicely decorated.  A coffee bar was serving drinks (for a fee) and a model of their next building project sat in a glass case in the middle of the hallway. 

We must have looked like visitors because almost as soon as we stepped into the sanctuary, a really friendly woman came up to us to help us find a seat.  Because we were a large group and because I was carrying a toddler, she ushered us to the “family section” and we chatted briefly about who-knows-what.  The family section was on the side of the sanctuary and the rows seemed to have a lot more space between them than the rest of the seating.  I realized I was out of diapers and asked if she knew if I could borrow one from the nursery.  She walked with me to the children’s hallway and then to the two-year-old room and asked the worker if they could spare a diaper. 

The hallway was happily decorated in a garden theme with large murals of grass and flowers with giant bug characters everywhere.  I thanked them for the diaper and she walked with me back to my seat.  On the way, she asked if this was my first time visiting.  I told her it was and she enthusiastically told me how glad she was that we were there.  It came up that we were actually from out of town and she asked if we were moving there.  When I told her we were not, she jokingly asked, “Why not?  We want you here!” 

When we got back to the sanctuary, she handed me a card that had information about the children’s ministries at the church.  On the other side of the card, it had the protocol for the family section, including instructions to immediately remove your child from the service if he or she was fussing or cooing at all.  It stated that even the quietest cooing could be a distraction to others and to not be offended if the ushers assisted you out of the sanctuary during the service.

Worship.  Let me see if I can describe this accurately.  There was a stage with a black curtain that was drawn once the music began.  The worship leader was in the middle with his guitar, multiple other singers on each side of him.  At the back of the stage was…well, it looked like a castle set from a medieval times play or something.  There were two balconies probably 15-20 feet up.  The bass player was on one balcony and the electric guitar player was on the other.  In the middle of the set was a balcony that must have been rigged on some type of hydraulic elevator or something that allowed it to move up and down.  On this was the drum kit, drummer and all.  Let me say this again.  The drummer played on an elevator that went up and down during worship.  Are you picturing this?

Worship was LOUD.  At one point, my husband tried to tell me something and had to yell in my ear for me to hear him.  I would say they played about 3-4 songs.  Two giant screens posted words to the songs, as well as camera shots of the worship leaders.  They must have had multiple cameras because the screen was constantly changing angles. 

Greeting. 

Welcome to visitors.  The emcee said the typical “we’re so glad you’re here” thing and then led the congregation in a reading from the screens.  There were about 5-6 statements that the people read in unison to the visitors.  The emcee directed our attention to the bulletin where we were instructed to fill out the card and drop it off at the visitor’s booth in the lobby on the way out.  We would be given a VIP valet parking pass for the next time we visited.  Apparently, single moms, elderly and disabled can have valet parking every Sunday.

Offering.

Curtain closed.

Announcements.  Announcements were done via video.  House lights were off.  The two giant video screens showed a myriad of announcements that were somewhat professionally done.  They were, I kid you not, at least 5-10 minutes long. 

Message.  The curtain opened.  Music began to play.  Doors opened from the “castle” and out came the preacher, accompanied by bright lights and whisps of smoke from a smoke machine.  He was greeted by a standing ovation from a portion of the congregation.  The message was something about David and Goliath and the trials that we face in life.  But honestly, I’m not sure what all was said because our Little One was starting to make noise.  I took her out to the lobby.

Apparently, the lobby is the overflow room.  It was then that I noticed small flat-screen televisions all around the lobby (and even in the bathroom) that showed what was going on in the sanctuary.  I walked my little girl to the children’s hallway, so as to not disturb the viewers in the lobby.

When the service was over, we left the building, doors propped open by the same friendly greeters and were directed out of the parking lot.

to be continued…

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