I’m not being sarcastic in the title. There really is a Church that meets in a movie theater. I’m not going to say which church or which movie theater, because I don’t want to post those things on a public blog. People would then know where I live. Which I might have stupidly already posted about but let’s minimize the damage.
In any case, I found out about this church while I was googling around for…. well, GLBT friendly churches, actually. Because a church that accepts GLBT people is probably also going to accept asexual people too, right? As for why I would want to go to a church in the first place, I really don’t know. Nostalgia? To prove to myself that GLBT Christians aren’t a myth? To see for myself what progressive Christians live like?
Anyway, I have no idea how I came across this church, because the website does not state that they are accepting of QUILTBAG folk. I was browsing around their site, however, and found out that they meet in the movie theater that is 2 or 3 miles down the road from where I live. It’s far enough away that I don’t want to walk, but the bus goes there, and then it’s… still a mile’s worth of walking (the bus doesn’t go all the way to the theater) but a lot less.
So, I decided to get my lazy butt out of bed on a Sunday morning at 9am so I could take one hour to get approximately one or two miles to the Church of the Holy Movie Theater.
I arrived early, because the busses only come once an hour on Sundays, and the next bus after would’ve been too late. There was actually a greeter at the door, a male and a female. The male, his name is Matt, was in a suit and tie. Oh my God I thought, sweat forming, I’m WAY underdressed! I’d figured that most churches geared toward college students, as this obviously was, had a more casual dress code. (Actually, the baptist church my grandma used to work for also had a casual dress code, so maybe it’s just a non-sda thing?) So I figured I’d just go in my yoga pants and hoodie, my “uniform” for the weekend. I was flipping out.
However, it did not take me very long to discover that I was not underdressed, Matt was overdressed. After the service, he said he wore a suit and tie because God told him to.
I learned quickly that this was not a place where I could just walk in and not have anyone notice or talk to me. As an introvert, this was frightening. Matt was really nice, and introduced me to the pastor, whose name I had gotten from the website. We’ll call him JB, though his last name’s common enough I might decide to start using it. Anyway, the pastor and I talked for a while. JB was dressed in what I guess you’d call business casual. He was wearing jeans, but he wore a nice shirt. After I raided the free donut table, we talked for a bit.
I asked why they met in a movie theater, and he just said it was the only place where they had space where they could also find good parking. He said they’d looked at schools in the area, but none of them had had good parking. I suppose that makes sense. Parking at the closest University there is a nightmare. I shrugged and said something like, “well, the earliest Christians met in caves.” This was intended to let him know that I had a Christian background. He then said something like, “yeah, the theater beats the catacombs.”
This then led to a discussion about how cool it would be to have church in the catacombs. I won’t bore you with the rest of the discussion, as it was pleasant but otherwise not worth blogging about.
JB left to go do pastor stuff, and I was talked to by a few students. I ate a few free donuts. They also had coffee, but I decided caffeine would not be a good idea, as I didn’t want to have to be constantly leaving the service to pee.
The service started. I was early coming in, so I didn’t want to sit in the very back. We met in theater 12, and I sat somewhere in the middle. The first four rows were empty, but you wouldn’t have wanted to sit in them anyway because they had a worship band with a drumset behind the plastic wall thingy. I’m not sure what said plastic doohickey is for, but whatevs.
I sat somewhere in the middle. No one sat next to me, which I liked. A few minutes later, a lot of people came in and sat in the back. Well, I thought. This is usual. At the other Sunday church I was part of, New Life, everyone always came in early to get good seats near the front.
Otherwise, the atmosphere was very much like New Life. The music was contemporary Christian. I haven’t been keeping up with contemporary Christian music in the last few years, so I didn’t know the songs. They had the words on the screen, but everyone knows that’s not the same thing as knowing the song.
I guess it’s the same experience as people coming into Planet Adventist and not knowing any hymn in the book. They sorta mouth along with the words, ish, or if they try to sing they will be off at times. But no one was close enough to hear me sing, so I wasn’t worried. I sang along with the one song I did know, from New Life.
After 5-6 songs, JB stood up in front of the “podium,” a music stand placed between the first four rows and the next four. JB announced that the missionaries in the Phillipines they were supporting were expecting their third child. Everyone was excited about this. An offering was taken up. New Life never passed around plates, but they had collection boxes at the entrances to the sanctuary. I have even been in at least one Adventist church that does it this way. Actually, now that I think about it, said Adventist church also passed around a plate, even though they always made the announcement that hey, tithe and offerings go back there, guys.
Back on topic, here are my sermon notes. You will find that the contents of the sermon are not at all outside of mainstream Christianity.
Sermon Title: SEEK, a life that God builds.
This is like, part 8 of what was supposed to be a 3(ish?) part sermon. However, he wanted to finish this up even though he could’ve kept it going because next weekend was Easter, and he wanted to preach about, well, Easter. Thus we are probably missing a lot of stuff that led up to this, however, the sermon did not read that way at all.
1. We have to trust that our higher power (God, our parents, etc.) know best. JB’s son may think it’s a great idea to throw a bunch of toys in the toilet and flush the handle. His dad, however, knows that this would fuck up the plumbing system and so does not allow it. He didn’t use the word fuck, I added that.
2. God told Abraham he’d be the father of many nations, then waited 25 years to fulfill this promise.
3. Genesis 22:1-18 The story of Abraham “sacrificing” Isaac.
4. Apparently, today is Palm Sunday, whatever that means.
5.If you’re faithful and believe what God says, you will be obedient.
6. A test reveals:
(as many educational experts know, nothing, actually, but the pastor does not acknowledge that.)
a. What you’ve learned
b. if you’re ready for more
(God is like math. There’s a reason you learn addition and subtraction before multiplcation, and multiplication before algebra. It all builds on itself.)
c. If we need more instruction in an area
God doesn’t give up on you just because you failed a test.
The 2 hardest tests are believing in God, and trusting God.
3. Everyone was created with a purpose in mind. When we trust God, we will be obedient.
4. Abraham looked like he was about to lose the most precious gift from God: his son.
5. Do we love God’s gifts more than the God who gives them? If so, God might just stop giving us gifts.
6. Speaker is grateful God gave him his wife and children
7. sometimes we give up on God because we believe his promise is dead
JB goes into a bit of his testimony. He left “a warm sunny place” to do ministry in Michigan, to which he refers to as “the frozen north.” to do this, he quit a band. Anyway, after beginning in ministry, he got fired. I do not know the details of why. JB thought it was because he messed up (Could be, he didn’t give details. It could also have been budget cuts, who knows.) But JB didn’t give up. He put money into a new church that he thought was going to get off the ground –and then it didn’t. this was discouraging. But he put his faith in Jesus anyway.
8. Hebrews 11 (can’t remember the exact verse) says that Abraham had faith that his son Isaac would be raised to life. (Those of you who believe in EGW will remember that she wrote something very similar to that as well, that Abraham was sort of expecting God to stop him; he never really expected that he would have to kill Isaac.)
The place of the test becomes the place where God provides. JB then makes the comparison of Abraham and Isaac to God and his son Jesus’ sacrifice.
JB then makes an appeal for us to raise our hands if we will trust in God. It didn’t occur to me to count the hands until just now. Afterward JB prays that everyone here will be forgiven, and that we will find god’s purpose for our lives.
Looking around, I noticed the theater didn’t seem very full. I wondered why they needed the space of a movie theater when their church was so small. Apparently they only started roughly 2 ish years ago, and that that Sunday they’d had 98 people, which was apparently a good turnout. Some members of the football team at the nearest university were in attendance. I asked if any of them knew James, but they said no.
But somebody else did. Somebody else knew James, Tyler, and I can’t remember who else. Apparently this guy, Mike? actually works with James and Tyler at the oil shop. Then the greeter Matt came along and said he knew 4 Adventists, 3 of which I also knew. He knows the current pastor the the nearby SDA church, who’s name I am not mentioning. This scares me. How does he have so many Adventist connections?
I wish Justin was here. I have a feeling he would very much have enjoyed himself, and having an extrovert along would’ve made it a little easier on me. As it was, I felt like there was a spotlight on me, and all I wanted to do was blend in and hide. Instead I had to be social and mingle. This got easier as time went on (and it went on for a while, because someone volunteered to give me a ride home, but couldn’t till after their stuff was taken down.) and I even started enjoying myself.
I was asked a few times if I’ll come back. I thought about it, I really did. I’m still thinking about it, actually. However, this is Easter Sunday, and the busses don’t run, meaning I’d have to walk. This is doable, but not doable enough that I’d actually want to do it, if that makes any sense.
Also, I probably should not be immersing myself in a world of which I do not wish to be a part.
And that is my first time going to a new church all by myself.