Monday, October 15, 2007

LifeChurch.tv Wellington

Church Field Trip #16

It was only a matter of time before we made it up to the Wellington campus of LifeChurch.tv. They hold their services in a high school auditorium, but don't be fooled, because it was tricked out. This is actually a pre-existing congregation that has been in Wellington for 16 years. Last February, they decided to become a campus of Lifechurch.tv "before someone else in South Florida beat them to it," according to the campus pastor, Larry Mayer.

We arrived about 15 minutes early and milled about in the lobby. At least 4 different people engaged us in genuine conversation. Larry recognized new faces and introduced himself. He then spent about 10 minutes before and also after the service talking to us about their transition, their vision, and their progress. I want to note that every person that spoke to me at this church asked me for my name. For this reason alone, I could have left satisfied. THIS IS HUGE!

This church is currently running two services with almost 500 in attendance. While we were out in the lobby talking, I noticed that the band was already playing inside the amphitheater. Pastor Larry told us that the band plays cover-songs during the pre-service time, so we went inside. Upon entry the band was "blasting" out Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden. At 11 am. That will wake you up for sure.

This was the loudest worship experience we've had. The band tore the roof off of that place. If you were in that crowd and you weren't worshipping and jamming to the music, you didn't have a pulse. I think that I've now determined, after visiting 15 churches, that I am personally not a fan of the "praise team." The "praise team" usually consists of 3 or 4 singers (usually pretty women) singing "parts." I've been to a lot of rock concerts in my life, at least 100, and the phenomenon of the "praise team" seems to be exclusive to the church world. I realize that this is just a personal preference on my part, but I just seem to be more into the worship when I'm not looking at a bunch of pretty girls standing up there without instruments.

When the band finished playing four songs, I wanted them to play four more, but they immediately moved into the teaching by Craig Groeschel via satellite. This was my second experience with live teaching being fed in via video. The first was Flamingo Road Church Sawgrass. Now I don't want to compare these two satellite experiences directly, but it is practically inevitable. The experience at FRC Sawgrass was satisfactory, but LifeChurch.tv are not only the authors, but quite possibly the masters of this new form of church experience.

Craig has mastered this form of teaching. At least 70% of time, he was looking directly into the cameras. They seamlessly switched the feed to whichever camera he happened to be looking at. They kept the shot tight on Craig so that he filled most of the three large screens in our auditorium. Craig addressed the campuses directly and intentionally. And, like the music, the audio feed was loud. All of these elements combined to successfully give the impression that Craig was actually in the room. They nailed it. This success was especially evident when he prodded the audience to participate by reading portions of Bible verses aloud. The entire audience participated just like he was in the room with us.

Since I'm devoting so much of this post to the overall experience, I'm not going to go into depth on the content of Groeschel's teaching. It was theologically sound. It was moving. It was convicting. And he delivered the Gospel in a clear and convicting manner. They just started a series called "Supernatural." You can watch the teaching on their website if you'd like. The teaching time for LifeChurch.tv usually runs about 30-35 minutes on the dot. During his teaching, they inserted at least 4 different video vignettes. We found this to be both unique and refreshing. The video capabilities of this church are off the chain. Rather than put together a 30 second video and tack it onto the beginning or end of the sermon, as many churches do, they actually produced 4 videos of varying lengths, 30 seconds to 4 minutes, and interspersed them throughout the teaching time.

At the close of the service, Pastor Craig led us in at least 5 minutes of prayer time. With my eyes closed and an ethereal music floating through the room, I was at last convinced that Craig was indeed in the room with us. I think that may be the longest period of time that I've spent in prayer in a church, another first. Want one more unique trademark of this church? They had the Communion elements available during the entire service at the side of the auditorium, for those who wanted to partake of them. I think I like that.

After the service, I asked Pastor Larry if LifeChurch.tv had any plans for more campuses in South Florida. He answered, "Orlando would probably be next because we already have a LifeGroup (their version of a small group) up there with 45 people." You see, LifeChurch.tv has stumbled onto another interesting phenomenon with their groundbreaking version of church. They've found that people are using their materials (which are freely available online) and their streaming video of worship and teaching to essentially hold their own versions of the church wherever they live. So, in essence, LifeChurch.tv already has a presence in Orlando, they just have to fill in the blanks. Wow.

If there was a curve, I do believe that this church just set it. Good thing there isn't one.

Follow-up: We received a personally written email from Pastor Mayer on Monday morning.

video

9 comments:

chris said...

Hey bro,
Well done on you assessment of Wellington. You were very thorough in your observations.

Funny how you labeled the praise team. Very true.

Am curious about lifechurch.tv. Will look into it a little more.

Anonymous said...

Lew: I'm one of the religion writers at the Sun-Sentinel and I'm interested in writing about your posts and your church visits. Please e-mail me at lsolomon@sun-sentinel.com. Thanks!

chris said...

Hey Lew,

I'm with Heresy Herald and we are also very interested in writing about your post and church visits. jj.

Hey, found a website that you might be interested in. Check it out if you haven't already.

missionalthoughts.wordpress.com

Chris said...

Hey Lew, this is Chris Rogers. I am the worship pastor at the Wellington Campus. Sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you guys on Sunday morning. I just wanted to thank you for coming by the campus and for all the comments you had. And if you liked the music last week wait until we rock out Don't Fear the Reaper this weekend. And there will be MORE COWBELL! Have a great week man.

the8thperson said...

Every time I look at the poster for this theme... I get creeped' out. What's up with the art work? Think the designers borrowed this from a rave club.

Once again... good article, except for the link to flamingo

revolution said...

8th, i don't think you've done your homework. i'd say that FRC is, by and far, a more conservative church than LifeChurch.tv

Also, if you think that that graphic was creepy, you should have seen the promo videos. They were horror movie quality. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Check out this awesome lifechurch.tv commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBCMLWkcMf4

LifeChurch.tv Tulsa member

Steven said...

I participate in one of the neighborhood life Groups in Orlando and am also an Internet Campus Life group Leader and Coach. By Lifechurch.tv giving away their resources and the creation of the Internet Campus, We have been able to bring the church experience directly into the neighborhood successfully. This concept is beginning to catch on. Church anywhere anytime and accessible by all. You can learn more at the www.simplechurch.tv site.

Steven Acosta
LC Orlando Connections Coordinator.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lew, my name is Renee & i am part of the host team at Lifechurch.tv Wellington campus, i guess you'll have to come back since i didn't get a chance to meet you in person:) I thank God that he brought you to our campus! But don't be fooled, this is more then just a cool church, it is a place filled with people committed to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ! It is in the heart of everyone, staff members & volunteers. Chris Rogers & the band are awesome, very talented, actually, anointed, is the right word to describe them. & Craig, the founder of lifechurche.tv, is not afraid to talk about the hard stuff & take us out of our comfort zone! Another thing that strikes me about him is his simplicity & humility. I can't forget our campus pastor Larry Mayer who goes out & meet every new faces he encounter & that makes a big difference in the life of a new believer or someone that is still searching for God. I could keep going on & on, there are so many wonderful people & as I am writing to you, God is making that very clear, like i haven't realized it before now? Wow! He is so awesome!! Lifechurch.tv is not just a cool place to go, it is where you go to be transformed!! I believe that there is a lot of churches out there because there is a lot of different people & God has a place for each & everyone of us & mine is with Lifechurch.tv, maybe this is yours too:) we would love to have you on the host team:)
There is a lot more i would like to write, but just stop by & I'll be able to tell you in person:) God Bless!!

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