Movie Theatre Church

So I did something different the other day.  I attended church in a movie theatre.  It was a satellite or campus of a large well known ministry.  The worship music was live but the preaching was via the screen.  I went to see what it was like and to see if I could learn anything from this type of ministry that is becoming more common.

So what did I notice/ learn?  Glad you asked.  In no particular order:

  1. Watching a video sermon is no more or less distracting for me. Those who know me know that a distraction free experience just isn’t possible!  But I really didn’t find this experience that different.  I know lots of people who say that this type of experience isn’t for them but I wonder if they have tried it.  I plan to go again this time with my wife to get her thoughts on the experience.
  2. This was “real” church. Some people sang and some didn’t just like your church and my church.  People greeted each other warmly. They were a “real” community – not just a bunch of people sitting in rows.  Many hung around after the service to visit with each other.  Now, they weren’t great with visitors just like your church and my church but I was in church.
  3. The seats were really comfortable and reclined a little. That could have been bad but I did stay awake.1767902HighRes
  4. The crowd was filled with young people – the 20’s and 30’s crowd were there. This was downtown Toronto so that could have had something to do with it.  But they were there.  I know there is all kinds of doom and gloom about this age group and the church so I wonder what we can learn from this church about effective ministry?  I want to ask more questions instead of simply convincing myself that they must be shallow or compromising.
  5. Some of the above surprised me especially the idea that you could have community in this type of setting. Now I am sure there are people who just show up and put in their time and leave just like in your church and my church but I wasn’t expecting the community aspect to be as visible.  My early thought is that it must have something to do with what goes on beyond that one hour a week.  They must do something to help facilitate meaningful connection, learning and discipleship.  That was a good reminder for me.  We can often get so caught up in making sure that one hour a week is good that we make it the whole meal when it is only one course.  Yes Sunday morning it is important but it’s not the whole meal and we need to put just as much effort into the other courses.

I want to keep paying attention to what ministries like these are doing.  We can learn from them.  And they may help us figure some things out when it comes to church in our changing context.

Marc McAlister

Director of Church Health, FMCIC

Marc McAlister