All my life I have been a member of a very small church.
The small town church that I have attended since I was in kindergarten has about one hundred active members. This is the little Lutheran church where I watched my Dad get baptized in the eighties and I attended vacation bible school every summer. My Dad is a long haul truck driver and I can remember nights he would drive across the country all night just to make it home by ten A.M. Sunday morning to take his kids to church. I can remember sultry summer mornings in August, walking into church late and having to sit high above in the alcove on the second floor. It was so hot up there in the summer months Dad would often fall asleep and start snoring loudly and we kids would kick him back awake.
Last summer our pastor died after a long illness and it seems in recent months the church has changed a lot and it’s just not the same for me anymore. I feel like I need to find a new church that fits my personality better. Most of the congregation at my old church is older, senior citizens and I would like to find a church with younger people who I can relate to more.
Last Sunday I went to a mega church for the first time.
It was truly an experience from the moment I was directed in Disneyland like traffic into the giant parking lot.
Yes, they had traffic guards guiding in the SUV’s, crossovers and mini vans into this church service at the Harvest Church in Riverside, California.
I have a lot of friends who have attended Harvest Christian Fellowship and I had heard a lot of good things about this church. I’ve heard about Greg Laurie, the Senior Pastor for years and it would be fun to actually see him give a sermon.
From the start of my Harvest church experience I was blown away by just how many people were at this one church. They call this a mega church and I can see why. The congregation of this one church in Riverside is over 15,000. See why I feel over whelmed?
Going to Harvest for the first time was like being at a church service, yet being at a rock concert and a standup comedian was also performing (senior pastor Greg Laurie tells a lot of Christian related jokes)
The Harvest Church building was like being inside one of the nice theaters in Los Angeles where I have gone to see musicals like Les Miserable’s or Phantom of the Opera. The whole building looked brand new and state of the art and the music that the singers started the service with was really nice.
My church has struggled for years, in a small town, to have a band and to have great singers to lead the congregation in hymns each week. I really enjoyed the music allot. The way the stage was set up with the lighting and the huge T.V. screens showing the lyrics to sing and close ups of the singers on the stage, it really made me feel like I was at a Christian Rock concert and not at church so much.
As I listened to the message Pastor Laurie was delivering I noticed that no one anywhere around me had gray hair. It seems like every one at this church was very young. That had to make me smile, to see all these young people, my age and younger who really do love god and enjoy praising him every week.
I see so many people every day who seem the opposite of Christiansand I see the way they are choosing to live their lives, it makes me so happy to see so many young people who are enjoying religion and spreading the word of god to their friends and families.
I really did enjoy my time at Harvest, and I am sure I will be back. I’m just shocked at how big and intense it is.