The main story in last week's Faith and Values section of the Herald-Leader was Providence Christian Church's temporary storefront location (link), coupled with an article on the popularity of storefront churches in Florida (link).
I would really enjoy reading an article on all the local storefront churches that are starting up in Central Kentucky. I have particularly noticed in Georgetown that it seems like a new one opens up every six months or so. I'm not one for watching church planting trends, but if there's anywhere in the world that wouldn't seem to need more congregations that are just like the others, it's this place. Why do you folks think these churches are opening?
I've heard that storefronts appeal to the poor, because dedicated buildings can seem pretentious or intimidating. For many of these Christians, of course, it's the cheap first step to megachurch status, and they don't to meet in homes because they want to grow numerically through an attractional model of mission, i.e., "come to see and experience this neat thing we're doing." I don't like to call that "mission," but there you go.
I also don't take for granted these churches are having the financial or numerical success that they would like; I know that a recent Baptist church plant has been meeting in the Regal Cinemas for almost two years now. Everybody says they offer something "different" from all the other existing churches; I have to say that in many cases, if they have leadership under 50, they are indeed something different.
My favorites are the billboards for the Pentecostal churches that offer more entertaining worship, and the Baptist church plants that see themselves as necessary because the other churches are too entertainment-focused.
I was recently contacted over the MySpace by the worship leader of a storefront start-up in Georgetown. They're trying to put together a combination worship space, coffeehouse, art gallery, and music venue. The funny thing was, the coffeehouse wasn't open for regular or any posted hours, and the Saturday night live music they're promoting is "Christian Rock," and carries with it a $5 cover charge.
This really doesn't help those ugly rumors that Pentecostal preachers are in it for the money. But seriously, I would assume it's because they need to pay the rent on the space in the Georgetown Outlet Mall, and can't wait until they have adherents to do so. Do they really expect Scott County kids to come streaming in with fivers in hand on Saturday nights to listen to an Audio Adrenaline cover band?
The implication is that a church is a meeting space before it is a group of people covenanted together, and that it's a worship band before it's a liturgy. The slogan: "A Non-Denominational, Relevant, God Glorifing, Body of Believers!"
I would have stopped in to meet them and see if I can learn what they're about (Roger and I were feeling feisty that night), but I didn't want to pay $5 for the privilege. I drove by another time out of curiosity, but there were just a couple of bored kids sitting at the door waiting to take money, and nobody inside. They advertise "freedom," too. Oh dear. I need to share with them the gospel of ritualism...
Anytime one of these groups introduces someone to a journey with Jesus, that's great. It really is. But I always wonder, how many people are going 'round those parts because they're offering something more relevant or exciting? Do they ask them to return to their previous fellowship? If they don't, they probably deserve them, now that I think about it.
Can you imagine what kind of parish priest I would be?
"Yeah, we really want to come to your church - the sermons are much more relevant than our other church, and I really feel like I'm in the presence of God here."
"I'm sorry my dears, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you not to return. You see, we're very exclusive here..."