The man is visiting his 28-year-old daughter. It is Sunday morning, and she has invited him to attend her church. He’s nervous about it. His daughter goes to one of those contemporary mega churches. He’s been a member of his modest traditional Baptist church for most of his adult life.
He asks her if she goes to Sunday School before worship. She tells him her church doesn’t have Sunday School. They meet in small groups at a time of their choosing during the week. He’s never heard of such. Worship and Sunday School just go together, like peanut butter and jelly.
It is 30 minutes before the service. Hundreds of cars are pouring into the vast parking lot from every direction. An army of volunteers wearing bright yellow shirts is directing parking. Finally out of the car, they approach the worship center and are greeted at the door by a smiling young lady who is wearing blue jeans. Pretty casual for church, he thinks. As he enters the cavernous auditorium, his jaw falls open.
Must be several thousand people here. No pews. Just padded folding chairs lined up in massive semi-circles facing what looks like a stage. No choir loft. Along the back walls are elevated rows of chairs. It feels more like a concert hall than a church. Giant screens everywhere, all flashing a digital clock counting down. “What have I gotten myself into?” he wonders.
When the countdown on the screens reaches zero, a large band converges on the stage and launches into a loud spiritual rock song. The lyrics explode on to the screens in artistic fonts. A battery of spotlights along the front of the stage fire beams of light across the room in changing colors. This is not like any worship he’s ever heard of.
But after several songs, the preacher takes the podium. He is an excellent orator who delivers a compelling, Bible-based message. The band retakes the stage with a stirring rendition of “Mighty to Save.” The man looks around. Everyone on their feet. Arms in the air. Palms facing upward.
Most importantly, he notices his daughter. Her eyes are closed. She is singing sweetly with outstretched fingers pointed to the heavens, totally engaged, praising the Lord. It occurs to him she is connecting with God in a way she never seemed to do in his home church.
The service is over, and he is no longer apprehensive. He leaves the building feeling glad he came. It’s not his cup of tea, but that’s okay. Different churches use different ways to reach people for Christ. So be it. There are no style points in heaven.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Ken Lass is a familiar face to Central Alabamians, having been a television news and sports anchor in Birmingham for more than 30 years. Currently, he is an award-winning columnist for several local and national publications and websites. Ken and his wife, Sharon, live in Trussville, where he serves as a deacon at First Baptist Church Trussville. He is also a member of the board of directors of Pathways Professional Counseling, a sister ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries that offers Christ-centered counseling throughout Alabama.