You awoke this morning, perhaps trying to sooth a hangover, or contemplating the relationship between a new year and a new chance. You may have stuck to routine or continued the New Year’s celebration. And as you made your daily decisions, your yearly resolutions and clung to the good in life, leaving the bad with 2009, I’m sure eventually, you thought to yourself, “Wait! Megan’s done her 10 churches! What ever will she do now?”
Okay, so maybe that didn’t cross your mind today, but with just two days until Sunday, it crossed mine. There are many changes I have to make in the New Year, for my health, sanity and growth. The must-have changes are only achieved by risks and choices, commitment and open-mindedness, dependence and independence.
Regardless of my criticisms of the 11 churches I visited this past fall, I made sure that all churches (with the exception of Christmas Eve), were within my comfort zone. Protestant. Not too big. Denominational. And most had some sort of liberal edge, whether it be an invite, a statement, or a website. Even though I did not enjoy all of the churches, they were chosen based on what I liked about my old church…in case I might find a new one.
Someone commented on a previous post, “Are you sure religion is what you’re looking for?” I responded with something like, “It’s not all I’m looking for.” But after considering that question, I decided that one problem with my 10-churches project is that I experienced a lot, but learned very little. Most of what I learned was from comments made by others. Is it religion I’m looking for? Is it Christianity? And if so, why do I think I’ll find it in places I already know?
There are churches I would go back to, if I were choosing a church. Instead, though, I’m continuing my journey educationally and spiritually by moving away from my comfort zone. Where do we start? How about another 10 churches?
So, I present you with “10 Churches, 10 Weeks, Volume II: The Mega-Church.” Wikipedia defines the Mega-Church as “a church with an atypically large congregation.” I would argue that this is only a small part of the Mega-Church as we use and notice it within our society. In addition to being large in construct and in population, Mega-Churches often have modernized worship with technology and theatrics. Many have focused their evangelism on unchurched or nominally-churched people. And, (here’s where we go out of my comfort zone), most Mega-Churches, in my area, at least, are very conservative.
There are cathedrals in the U.S. and other parts of the world that have thousands of attendees, but I would not consider those as Mega-Churches. The size of those churches is based in history and tradition and often they are community or culturally connected. The churches I found (on a Hartford database of Mega-Churches by state) are brand new or recently renovated. Though some of them are denominational, they rarely state that in their name and it is often hard to find on their website. They focus on family, worship and a spiritual experience. These are my assumptions based on a day of research, and thus are the hypotheses I will explore in visiting these churches.
Is it possible I might “find what I am looking for” in places that normally make me cringe upon first mention? I might, but what I am hoping is that I will gain a greater understanding of how religion works in others’ lives, and why does it work so well?
As always, dates and places are subject to change:
Church of The Resurrection
First Family Church
Westside Family Church
Lenexa Christian Center
Assemblies of God
College Church of the Nazarene
Church of the Nazarene
Sheffield Family Life Center
Assemblies of God
Grace Vineyard Church
Metro Christian Fellowship
Colonial Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church of the USA
Kansas City Baptist Temple
I hope you will continue to read, comment-on, discuss and journey with me on this adventure.