Dec. 5, 2006 – KAYSVILLE, Utah, November 2006: Now praying at a theater near you – Sunday school. A number of churches across the country are abandoning wood pews and stained glass for plush stadium seating and silver screens showing previews of second coming attractions.
According to The Leadership Network, in Dallas, 250 churches nationwide are holding religious services in movie theaters. “We have confirmed that churches in at least 36 states, including D.C., use local cinemas for church services,” says Warren Bird, Director of Research. “Locations cover the country, from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and New Hampshire.”
Sitting in a darkened theater, congregants hear about Jesus instead of Will Ferrell. Instead of popcorn and soft drinks church theatergoers enjoy coffee and bagels. Admission isn’t paid at the door but donation envelopes fill the cup holders. And like all conventional trips to the movies, cell phones still go off at ill-timed moments.
It takes approximately 3 hours to convert a theater into a solid rockin’ and holy rollin’ church. The Church must provide its own equipment for the services. Lecterns are brought in for speakers, and sound systems and projection equipment are setup for displaying multimedia sermons on the big screen.
Heavenly Wood, a church furniture distributor, offers equipment for cine-churches that is easy to move, setup, and store: including portable lecterns and speaker stands (http://www.heavenlywood.com/pulpits.htm), free-standing collection boxes (http://www.heavenlywood.com/126-collection-box.htm) for cine-church’s fundraising efforts, and countertop display racks (http://www.heavenlywood.com/db5.htm) for church literature, tracts, bibles, and worship CD exhibits.
Ryan Lind, Lead Pastor of a church that meets in a movie theater in Layton, Utah, explains the appeal of a cine-church. “It’s got comfortable chairs,” jokes Pastor Lind. “Movie theaters are generally a hospitable atmosphere. People expect to have fun when they come to the movies.”
“Our theaters make an ideal, cost-effective place for churches to grow, and the unique theater environment, is a big draw for newcomers,” says Mike Schonberger, vice president, CineMeetings & Events. “In fact, 84% of our church clients report that attendance has increased since they started holding their services in a movie theater.”
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