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Guide for the Cineplexed

John Parker

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John Parker on Churches That Give You What You Want, But Not What You Need

With fifteen movies playing at the local multiplex cinema, each playing six times during the day, I have ninety options. One chosen, ticket purchased, I enter the building and am directed to Theater 14, on the right past the concession stand. The concession stand is like a food court; I might as well have arrived an hour earlier and eaten dinner here. Gone are the days when popcorn, soda, and Mike-and-Ikes were about the only options.

Every conceivable genre of movie, every conceivable type of food. Every hour of the day and evening. Who would ever have thought that churches might take this as their model for operation?

I once served at a church that wanted to buy an old theater, positioned perfectly along the main thoroughfare in our town. The rector was a keen student of pop culture. He had read every George Barna book published. He went to conferences on church growth. He even loaded up our staff of nine in a rental van early one weekday morning for a road trip to a distant city for a Barna church growth conference.

The cinema concept was already in place at the church on Sundays: early-morning "traditional" Communion service with no music in the neo-gothic historic chapel, with the celebrant in cassock and surplice; a 9:00 "contemporary" Communion service in the parish hall, complete with praise band and torchiere lighting to set the mood, and the service projected on the wall; a concurrent 9:30 prayer service for children and their families in the old church, with the celebrant only in an alb; an 11:00 traditional Eucharist with full, vested choir in the chapel, with the celebrant in chasuble; and a concurrent free-flowing 11:15 service, which went beyond contemporary, with bands, skits, and so forth, and definitely no vestments. The concept was this: We've got something for everyone, and at every standard Sunday morning hour.

Read the entire article on the Touchstone Magazine website (new window will open).

Posted: 02-Jul-06



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