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A church trend across the U.S. I really like and generally endorse is the practice for start-up churches to rent space in movie theaters to conduct their worship services in them.
Some of these churches have become so popular they hold many services on the weekend, and have members in the thousands. The advantages of these churches is they’re not hard to find, have lots of parking, and do not require the pricey mortgages so many members hate to take on. Rather these church's income is used to pay for clergy, and to become involved with practical local and foreign missions.
Church #1 - Confusion at C3
Chugach Covenant Church [C3] meets at Muldoon 8, the esteemed 2nd run, low-priced theater in East Anchorage. I showed up this morning at 9:55 to attend their 10 a.m. service. Entering through a knot of 10-15 people at the entrance, many in black C3 t-shirts, only one person said “good morning” to me.
There was an even larger crowd in the lobby with no direction and lots of kids. Once again, no one recognized or talked to me. It appeared they were waiting for something. At 10:07 the crowd was told to go to Theater 3 where someone flipped on, front and rear, blinding halogen emergency lights. (See pictures below) At this time, the crowd of thirty or forty was told this was what the pastor hoped would be C3’s annual day of caring. They were told their mission was going to Alaska Native Charter School to unload pallets of supplies for teachers followed by a potluck.
I couldn’t recall seeing a notice on C3’s website about this day of caring, so checked it again and still could find no reference to it. (See pictures bottom of post) To eliminate confusion, churches should post any non-normal church activity prominently on their website in advance. Not every guest to this church would be able or interested for such an activity, no matter how worthy it is, and might give a visit a pass until a "normal" service.
Unfortunately, C3 clearly lacks in guest greetings and hospitality, something a start-up church avoids at all costs. I generally do not recommend churches that are inhospitable to guests. Guests decide in 5-8 minutes whether they would make a 2nd visit to a church.
Church #2 – Resonate…Missing in Action
After the unfortunate experience at C3, I figured I could catch the Resonate Church 10 a.m. service. They meet at the Regal Tikahtnu Stadium 16 after recently moving from Creekside Elementary School. I got there just around 10:20 a.m. Inquiring of where Resonate met, the ticket taker pointed to a table (see picture below) with literature on it and said there had been someone there. I left my card on the table and went home. Whatever buzz Resonate has been trying to generate to attract the public failed me this morning.
Moral of the Story
Starting a new church is hard work. It takes a strong devotion to the Word of God, a strong caring ethic, and a willingness to connect with members and guests. Neither of these two churches showed their pastors or members were willing to extend themselves to this end. I’m further amazed with the number of Anchorage churches whose pastors have never said a word to me, a casual visitor who becomes a one-time visitor. Usually in these churches the members emulate the pastor’s attitude to visitors as well.