Today being Easter we ended up going to a service for a emerging mega church near where our kids live. Jim and I went with our best friends from our old church. They attend this mega church about once a month and attend the splinter church that formed after old church split. They took over a small Free Methodist church and haven't felt totally satisfied.
This mega church decided to hold a huge service in the concert hall of the same university Laura and Andy attend/attended. Huge place that reminds me of the old traditional opera houses with a center sloping general admission pit and balconies laid out like the old boxes in the opera houses. A modern take on the old.
Today was a first for me. Once we left our old church I pretty much stopped attending conferences at mega churches at all. I can't explain it in words, it was just as if a season had ended and I knew that was done for me. But when I committed to going to this church's Easter service I didn't realize it was a huge outreach/conference-like sort of thing. I thought we would be attending one of their regular services. What we got instead was this......
There were blinding lasers and lights, music played by the former worship leader of Hillsong United with the volume turned to eleven, followed by a short sermon and a lonnnngggg salvation call. I couldn't enjoy any of it, some was triggering and the rest I couldn't partake in because of my asthma. This is one of the few worship sets I've been in where I didn't praise God or anything. I was so busy concentrating on my breathing, making the breath ratio of 1 second inhales to 3 second exhales that I could spare no brain cells or oxygen on anything else.
Jim became concerned as I slipped away during the worship because even he could smell the heavy chemical air freshener scent wafting out of the fog machine and knew exactly why I'd disappeared. I waited till the meds kicked in with him sitting beside me before we went back in.
This mega church has a huge number of young people, twenty-somethings, that are excited about their faith and that's all good. But... for me it was more triggering than anything else. Perhaps their regular services are alright but today was all super over the top acting.
Yeah, I know I'm judging if they're really believers but.... I've seen cults of personality before and performance Christianity so many times now that I can no longer go to a mega church or huge conference without getting the vibes that this is performance-oriented instead of personal relationship.
Me? My faith has turned me inward. I feel no urge to attend charismatic churches any longer. I just want to be alone with the divine, not in corporate worship with fog machines and crowds. I like to do soaking prayer at home or slip down where no one can see me behind the organ at my church to commune or to worship at church off to the side. I'm not performing, I don't need anyone's approval.
So I think this is a one off for me. I'm not feeling inclined to repeat it at all and not just because I react horribly to chemicals that are common. I seek Him alone. He still sits on the throne and I don't need 'rah-rah Jesus' to remind me of it.
One of the few exceptions to my no conferences/mega church experiences is when Jason Upton comes to a nearby church. Whenever I attend certain churches it reminds me of Jason's lyrics to his song "Freedom"
Happy Easter folks!