first of all, i am sorry i haven’t been posting much. party hat is making me 1. sick, sick, sick and 2. exhausted. posting usually takes a little more brain power than i have to give to it. i’ve been asked a couple of times if i was sick in the first trimester with j and c. the answer to that is an emphatic NO. people who don’t know me have been saying “maybe you’re having the opposite of what you already have since you’re so sick this time!” while well intended, um… what exactly am i having then? a toaster? an alien? an angry gordon ramsey who will accept nothing less than exquisite cuisine?
but that’s not why i wrote today though. i wrote to tell you all about what i have affectionately named the roundhouse church. i don’t mean round like shaped like a circle. i mean roundhouse like the show that used to air on Nickelodeon where all the people danced at the beginning. let me jog your memory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpKXfa3fZ8o — Clarissa explains it all usually followed. 2 thumbs up for quality-ish television.
last week i re-posted this article on facebook: http://www.faithandleadership.com/node/3653 with some commentary about how this movement away from traditional church has made an impact on my family. my experience with the roundhouse church is my most obvious example of why this model just won’t work for everyone. before i get into my roundhouse church experience let me say this: i know that some people enjoy churches that are far more laid back than what i like and that is AWESOME. i am so glad that they found a church that makes them feel at home and that they are having their needs met at that church. hooray! what the article above is cautioning against is that every church is turning into a roundhouse church in an effort to attract youth/young adults and that particular model isn’t for everyone, thus they are alienating a faction of the young population that doesn’t feel comfortable in that particular model.
now on to my experience at the round house church.
when daddy j and i move we always make it a priority to find a new church. it usually goes like this: we visit all the catholic churches praying that one will have a nursery. none do. we decide we don’t want to wrestle with our kids for an hour and stuff them full of snacks because we could just do that at home without disturbing the peace. literally. then we take a couple weeks off to recover from the trauma and we visit a few methodist churches. we go to the service that best fits our needs of starting between 930 and 11. we get there and somebody whips out a fender guitar and we start getting the cold sweats. the sweat drips more and more and more as we awkwardly sway to the music that we don’t know the words to- until the explosion of uncomfortable happens when we all come together at the end to hold hands with strangers and say a prayer/blessing that we don’t know but can’t read because our hands are currently slipping and sliding all along the palms of strangers. and then i grab my purse and we run away as fast as we can. we do that until we find a church in any church denomination that doesn’t have a contemporary service but we don’t necessarily like and we just go there because we are so exhausted from looking. and eventually i am so grossed out by it that i start out looking for a church again.
that’s how i found out about the roundhouse church. it wasn’t too far from my house and they looked super inviting. i got gussied up one sunday, kissed the kids and daddy j goodbye, and headed off to figure out if was a church we would be willing to come back to and bring the entire gang.
i got there right as the service was starting. they had a count down on a huge white screen at the front of the church. i got there with like 20 seconds left and when we got to 10 — the speaker system started making a booming noise like a rocket ship getting revved up and everyone started screaming 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3!!!, 2!!!, 1!!!!!. i should have taken that final 3, 2, 1, like the countdown to the hundred meter dash and gotten the Hell out of there but i was literally paralyzed with curiosity of what was going to happen after the countdown.
and thats when things got interesting. right after the countdown, the indoor laser light show started. i literally feared for the health of my retinas. seriously. colors were darting all around the room and this heavily miked-up guy came running out on the stage like he was about to light the torch at the Olympics. i later ascertained that we was the music director which explained why he looked like justin timberlake (before the suit & tie years) in concert. as soon as justin timberlake jr was in place on stage, the singing started replete with backup dancers. BACKUP DANCERS. like kevin federline- hip hopping and crumping and doing things i don’t even know what to call them all over the stage. at this point i thought that if i needed to leave, i was going to need to back away so as not to startle the swaying participants on my flanks. except their wasn’t an opportunity to leave for a while.
the next Jesus jam after the crumpers was a slow-ish tune that had about the same speed/twang as a line-dance. apparently since i was new, i missed the memo that this was the cue for everyone to exit their rows and dance in the aisles. everyone was doing this kinda kick, step, step, wave your arms, bounce up and down twice, wiggle your butt for a count or two, repeat deal. they weren’t necessarily doing it in unison, but they all were definitely doing the same choreography. i can only imagine that it was called something like the Jump for Jesus or Grind for God, but let me tell you… if swaying to music is out of my comfort zone, Grind for God put me practically on the moon. there wasn’t an opportunity to leave during this song either because every avenue of exit was occupied with grinders. the fire marshal would not be pleased. after the song ended, there were some lingering line-dancers and these vested ushers came along to shoo them back to their seats. another lost opportunity for escape.
once everyone was seated, the longest continual prayer i have ever witnessed began. i wasn’t looking at a watch but i’d guess it was at least 25-30 minutes. and i wasn’t going to leave during a prayer. i wanted to leave, but not bad enough to be rude. in the last 3 or 4 minutes of the prayer, the music in the background started to pump up the volume, pump up the volume, pump up the volume, jam!jam!. when the preacher/spiritual leader person was done, the music really got to going full-blast and everyone was boogieing down while the backup dancers secretly auditioned for christina aguilera’s back to basics tour circa 2006.
and just when i thought it couldn’t get any weirder and i could make my great escape… remember those vested ushers? they busted out of the back doors of the church and came running up the aisles clapping their hands and being like party starters for everyone to hop up on chairs and start jamming. i was quite surprised that they weren’t carrying little test tubes full of water that was about to be turned into wine to really get the party started. when people started getting up on the chairs though, i had a clear avenue of approach for the door. i grabbed my purse and ran out. it wasn’t until i got in the car that i realized i forgot the bible i’d brought on the chair. i chalked it up to a loss as i decided right then and there to never go back to that church.
so that’s my story of the roundhouse church. again, that kind of church is obviously for a lot of people (as it was PACKED) but it isn’t for me. it was a culture shock extraordinaire. the important thing to take away from this beside the fact that they should really issue protective eye wear if they are going to lasers inside is that we continued to look and found the church for us. those people at the roundhouse church had their spiritual needs met, so that’s awesome. and going waaaaaaaayyyy back to the article above, not every church has to be a roundhouse church. i love the fact that we were able to find one that met our very boring 30 year old couple spiritual needs and that there is a church for everybody.