One* is a large church in the Spokane Valley that sports its own climbing tunnel play area called the Totally Tubular Zone and lattes. (I haven’t quite figured out the latte thing–that is, is it by donation? regular coffee stand prices? something else? It might be done a little differently each place. At least one — Life Center, I think — had a “free latte for first time visitors” policy, which indicates at least an expectation of a donation to cover costs).
One*, like many of the larger churches we’ve attended, has a countdown-to-the-service clock, and they followed it to the second. But they also have a second clock, in the back, visible from the stage . . . the “time left in service” clock, which they also adhered to, down to the second. This practice — the production of a service — is a bit unnerving. The opening announcements have a voice over that sounds just like the one you hear at the movies — including reminding you to silence your cell phone.
The music at the beginning featured obviously talented musicians singing not-very-singable music, which makes that portion of the service more rock-concert and less corporate-praise. That’s enjoyable, if you’re not really interested in singing along, but they do flash the words along the bottom of the screens in the front, which I took as an indicator that the congregation was invited/expected to join in.
Even the 10 second “greet those around you” is timed (seriously: it’s 10 seconds — I’m not making that up or even given to hyperbole — the countdown is on the screen), and the lights in the house go down again, to let you know they’re moving on to the next thing. I think that’s kind of unnerving, too: dimming the house lights. The What to Expect page says “We’re a big church, but we guarantee it will feel small,” and I’ve noticed that one of the ways large churches (my guesstimate was 400 in attendance at this morning’s second of three services — Michael thinks closer to 500) make themselves “feel small” is by cutting off the house lights, like theaters do.
You should be able to catch the sermon we heard this morning in the not-too-distant future. (There must be a misplaced modifier in that sentence. In the not-too-distant future, you should be able to catch the sermon we heard this morning. Great. Now three sentences in this paragraph end it “this morning.” I’m giving up). It’s the third in the Wired series, and included, among others, video clips from Oprah’s Big Give, and the Mom Song, which, if you read the comments below the video, you’ll note was shown in a number of churches this morning.
One of the mini-videos, though, was strange, because it started out as if it were done on 8mm, with the scrolling letters of the junk film that was always at the beginning of the reel. For that matter, you’d almost think, with the family shots, and the outdoor shots at the beginning, that you were watching old footage. Then, in the shot of Main Street, Anywhere, an X-Terra rolls around the corner, and it’s at that point you know the 8mm effect is contrived. I wonder if this is meant to make Boomers and Xers in the audience feel warm-and-fuzzy, thinking back to their old home movies. I wonder if it confuses people under 30.
The sermon itself was on the topic of serving as the third way to “stay wired” to God. (Prayer and reading the Bible being the other two). As far as sermons on works go, it wasn’t half bad. There’s always that tension, especially in protestant circles between salvation by faith and salvation by works, and how works factor in to your faith . . . it’s a protestant tightrope walk, and always interesting to watch someone handle it.
You’re probably wondering about the asterisk: One*.
It’s not my addition in this particular post, but part of the “brand” of this church.
One* (The Church Formerly Known as Grace Harvest) is the Church Formerly Known as Grace Harvest (my homage to Prince) because it was formerly known as Grace Harvest, and had a name change a few years ago. They don’t have a “history” section on the website, so I don’t have a story to tell or point you to, though there are some testimonials on the iwillbethechange capital campaign website that point to a seamless transition from Grace Harvest to One*.
One interesting note from the video on that site: the pastor is referred to by most of the folks being interviewed without an article or a first name. They say things like, “Pastor’s sermons are –” or “I like when Pastor speaks on –.” One man referred to him as “Pastor Will,” but to a person, the rest referenced a nameless, article-less “Pastor.”