“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
~Hebrews 10: 24-25 (ESV)
Freckled Italian has done it again!
Megan included this link in her blog post on Friday, March 25, as part of her recurring “Friday Favorites” series.
I took a sick day last Friday after having a massive panic attack (More about that later, in another blog post), so I was skimming through Facebook late in the afternoon and found Megan’s post. Her comments fascinated me, as well as the comments from her readers. I skimmed through the story, and let it marinate for a couple days.
Here’s the link: Elevation Church is kind of unsettling – and kind of beautiful
After the initial skim, I sat down and read through Katie’s account, and I found it fascinating. She went to Elevation Church’s Blakeney venue in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Megan lives. The photo at the beginning of this post is what you would see from your seat there on a Sunday morning.
Katie’s main observation:
“… I thought I’d try out the Blakeney venue because it’s a broadcast location, which means it functions like an indoor concert hall that’s loaded with media equipment plus a giant camera swiveling on a long arm to broadcast the sermon to other locations, and the Internet …”
So much technology!
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been to several Christian rock concerts in my time … but I can’t imagine experiencing that level every single Sunday.
I grew up in a traditional United Methodist Church – It’s been like a second home since I was four-years-old, and also where I married Al nearly five months ago.
However, over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to worship in multiple churches of different denominations – Catholic, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Baptist, Presbyterian, and a non-denominational church too.
In the last few years, I’ve seen the rise of more contemporary churches – Holding services in movie theaters, theater venues, and other modern spaces.
There’s a local one, called The Rising, that holds its services in The NorVa. I did some reading on it, and watched a few videos. I love the pastor’s enthusiasm and his messages about modern struggles and relating those to the Bible and Jesus’s time. I’m all for getting people interested in the church with different approaches – Rock music, modern messages, etc.
I think that’s great.
But, that’s not for me.
I agree with Sara – One of Megan’s regular readers / commentators.
“… I love how diverse they are and how enthusiastic everyone is, but it all feels like show and less like worship. I want my worship experience to feel honest, and it’s hard to feel that way when every Sunday is a production …”
She hit the nail on the head for me.
I don’t feel that way with Aldersgate, but I can see how that perception can be formed.
I’m on the team that runs the computers and projectors for the 8:30 and 11:00 services, and I’ve gotten a great perspective from sitting in the booth and watching everything unfold.
Our 8:30 service is contemporary – The praise band has guitars, electric drums, bass, and keyboard. It’s more relaxed – Come as you are.
Our 11:00 service is traditional – Our long-time organist plays, we sing the hymns. Most people dress in their Sunday best.
I feel comfortable, and it makes sense when you’ve attended the same church for over 20 years.
I thought Megan’s take was interesting:
“I tend to get obsessed with churches that end up with cult followings and this one is no different. I’ve been listening to podcast episodes and reading everything I can about Elevation ever since we moved here in 2014, so I was excited to see this piece on my Twitter feed. (Also I love the way Katie worded her beliefs: ‘be kind, love more, try to see the divine in others.’)”
I wasn’t sure about the “cult followings” comment at first, but after reading Katie’s account, it makes sense. She almost didn’t get into the venue that Sunday because of capacity. In seeing Aldersgate’s membership numbers go up and down over the years, I can understand how Elevation Church is attractive to many different people.
Again, I think that’s awesome that they’re booming and seeing overflow crowds, but that’s not for me. I’ve found that I prefer smaller gatherings, and Aldersgate fills that need for me, for now.
I loved Katie’s account, and I’m glad I read it and took the time to write this post.
“Be kind, love more, try to see the divine in others.”
Sounds perfect to me.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂