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California Christians Worship In A Big Way ["Church Lite"?]
LATimes ^ | October 11th 2009

Posted on 10/11/2009 10:19:06 AM PDT by Steelfish

California Christians Worship In A Big Way

The state has more megachurches than anywhere else in the country, with the majority in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego. Their upbeat approach is luring thousands each weekend.

A worshiper gets caught up in the music at Shepherd of the Hills in Porter Ranch, which attracts 8,000 people to its six weekend services. California has 193 megachurches, defined as those with at least 2,000 congregants.

By Duke Helfand October 11, 2009

Once again, the Sunday faithful have packed the cavernous sanctuary at Shepherd of the Hills Church in the San Fernando Valley, clapping and swaying for Jesus as a band rocks the hall.

"Come bless the Lord," the worshipers sing. "Praise his name to the ends of the Earth."

Most churches would be thrilled to fill their sanctuaries any day of the year.

Shepherd of the Hills, a nondenominational church in Porter Ranch, does it six times a weekend, attracting 8,000 people to its energetic services and offering a lesson about the growth of evangelical Christianity in California.

Thanks to good weather, sprawling suburbs and a number of charismatic pastors, the Golden State has more of these megachurches -- defined as those with at least 2,000 congregants -- than any other state.

California is home to 193, slightly more than Texas with 191, according to the most recent survey by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, one of the nation's leading authorities on megachurches.

The majority of these congregations are in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego, an area that some who study the phenomenon call the Southern California Bible Belt.

A handful have risen to national prominence -- notably Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and its celebrity pastor, the Rev. Rick Warren.

But dozens of other large,...

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: christians; evangelicals; helfand; megachurch; socal
Entertainment or Spiritual Transformation?

"Many have jettisoned formal rituals such as organs and hymns in favor of Christian rock music and overhead projection screens that display lyrics and prayers."

1 posted on 10/11/2009 10:19:07 AM PDT by Steelfish
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To: Steelfish

What sort of representatives do these areas send to Congress?

People who support abortion? Euthanasia? Embryonic stem-cell research?

(Don’t know, just asking if they ever consider the lives of the unborn and the elderly are worth anything, and vote accordingly)


2 posted on 10/11/2009 10:22:38 AM PDT by CondorFlight (I)
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To: CondorFlight

The same question crossed my mind.


3 posted on 10/11/2009 10:24:11 AM PDT by Steelfish
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To: Steelfish

They probably have full bar just outside of the main area of the church, and allow sex and drugs in secluded rooms where the sermons can be watched via webcam....


4 posted on 10/11/2009 10:24:14 AM PDT by KoRn (Department of Homeland Security, Certified - "Right Wing Extremist")
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To: Steelfish

We have alot of megachurches around here. I just dont see the point of going somewhere where nobody really knows anybody (thats my personal impression based on personal experience). Alot of these people probably go to these churches because it helps their businesses to have many contacts and what not. Most of these places are really pretty shallow.


5 posted on 10/11/2009 10:24:49 AM PDT by fkabuckeyesrule
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To: KoRn

Just like at your mother’s church?


6 posted on 10/11/2009 10:25:48 AM PDT by Rebelbase (This is the time of year when ACORNS fall.)
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To: CondorFlight

The Oarnge County and San Diego areas (the areas mentioned) tend to send conservative Republicans by and large (though there are a few Democrats intermixed).

Duncan Hunters and now his Sons seat is in this area.


7 posted on 10/11/2009 10:26:04 AM PDT by spikeytx86 (Pray for Democrats for they have been brainwashed by their fruity little club.)
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To: Steelfish
“Mega-Churches” = “milk-fed “Baby Christians””
8 posted on 10/11/2009 10:26:59 AM PDT by US Navy Vet
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To: fkabuckeyesrule

I suspect many of them are ex-Catholics who don’t and cannot relate to the serious liturgy and instruction of the Catholic Church. Clapping, dancing, swaying, rumba are all part of the Rick Warren theology.


9 posted on 10/11/2009 10:28:22 AM PDT by Steelfish
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To: CondorFlight

>What sort of representatives do these areas send to Congress?

http://rohrabacher.house.gov/Biography/


10 posted on 10/11/2009 10:32:38 AM PDT by ColdWater
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To: All

LOL People! Not every where in California is friggin’ Berkley.

There are a lot of red, even deep red, areas in the state.

The coastal part of the state tends to be deep blue (with the exception of Orange County and to an extent San Diego), but with few exceptions the inland counties tend to be Conservative like Bakersfield, Central Valley, and the Eastern and Northern suburbs of Sacramento.

Obama did do well in a lot of red and purple districts in 2008 but that will be hard for him to repeat. Just look at a county by county breakdown on cultural issues like the prop 8 vote. Even LA County voted Yes!

There are a lot of sane folks in CA, the problem is the coastal cities. The vote is just too lopsided Democrat in LA and San Francisco to be overcome most of the time.


11 posted on 10/11/2009 10:36:31 AM PDT by spikeytx86 (Pray for Democrats for they have been brainwashed by their fruity little club.)
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To: Steelfish
Ah, but this woman's story, recounted in the article, would suggest to me it is not "church lite."

The 25-year-old bank teller said the formalities of her former church -- including the robed clergy, hymnals, organ and repetitive liturgy -- left her uninspired.

At the San Dimas church, she found what she called a fresh approach to her Christian faith that emphasizes a joyful, free-flowing worship and the importance of maintaining a relationship with Jesus seven days a week rather than only on Sundays.

At church, she also met fellow Lutherans, along with Presbyterians and Methodists, all searching for new ways to express their spirituality.

"I've become a lot more comfortable in my faith and willing to share that with people," said Rief, who now volunteers at the church Thursday nights, greeting college students who are treated to dinner and lively worship services.

12 posted on 10/11/2009 10:40:15 AM PDT by dawn53
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To: Steelfish

A friend showed me a video of his sons band performing a “call to worship” at their megachurch. It was an instrumental of the Heart classic “Barracuda.”

Speechless does not begin to describe my response.


13 posted on 10/11/2009 10:42:07 AM PDT by cyclotic (Boy Scouts-Developing Leaders in a World of Followers.)
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To: spikeytx86

There are many ways to meet the Lord.


14 posted on 10/11/2009 10:42:16 AM PDT by Mercat (Reluctant glenbeckian)
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To: Rebelbase
"Just like at your mother’s church?"

I wouldn't know. I don't believe she goes to church.

15 posted on 10/11/2009 10:42:26 AM PDT by KoRn (Department of Homeland Security, Certified - "Right Wing Extremist")
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To: spikeytx86

I live in Illinois and there are some here that think that means Chicago.

I live in the normal part of the state and that aint Chicago.


16 posted on 10/11/2009 10:44:13 AM PDT by Graybeard58 ( Selah.)
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To: Steelfish

Don’t rush to judge something which sounds strange to you.

Back in the ‘70s in downtown Minneapolis, a church named “Jesus People” sowed the seeds of what is now a extremely strong pro-life movement all over Minnesota. I know 3 pastors which came out of JP and spread its bible based teaching all over the state.

I’ll reserve judgment until I hear and see the fruits.


17 posted on 10/11/2009 10:45:01 AM PDT by Zathras
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To: CondorFlight; Steelfish

The area “between Los Angeles and San Diego” would be Orange County, the ONLY county in southern California to vote for McCain/Palin.


18 posted on 10/11/2009 10:46:57 AM PDT by Clemenza (Remember our Korean War Veterans)
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To: KoRn
They probably have full bar just outside of the main area of the church, and allow sex and drugs in secluded rooms where the sermons can be watched via webcam..<

Most churches in Californian have large basements where they take turns dancing with other congregation members that dress up like the devil.

Our preacher has a headless demon tattooed on his arm, but that doesn't mean he isn't a good person.

We just got back from church, and my wife had taken this shot of her friend having a wicked good time right after the services.


19 posted on 10/11/2009 10:49:54 AM PDT by dragnet2
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To: Steelfish
You mean they don't respond to the ossified, Eurotrash, Novus Ordum liturgy of the Romanists, nor do they care to join the Dungeons and Dragons-esque cult know as the Tridentines?

The Catholic Church is General Motors, these "megachurches" are Wal-Mart if Wal-Mart were not centrally controlled from Bentonville. I have no use for either myself, and don't care for those "members" who try to steal constitutionalist American conservatism, which has nothing to do with Romanist statism, or Rick Warren Happy Clappy tripe.

20 posted on 10/11/2009 10:51:05 AM PDT by Clemenza (Remember our Korean War Veterans)
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To: Graybeard58

I was born in Upstate NY. Most people don’t even know there is a state above NYC LOL.

The big problem with states like NY, IL, CA, and WA is that the urban areas are so lopsided Democrat that they pretty much cancel out the rest of the states.

I don’t know if it’s constitutional, but I would like to see Governors in these states require that in order for anyone to win all of their electoral votes they must win a majority of their counties as well.


21 posted on 10/11/2009 10:56:46 AM PDT by spikeytx86 (Pray for Democrats for they have been brainwashed by their fruity little club.)
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To: fkabuckeyesrule

We’re in So Cal. There are some pretty great megachurches around here and in San Diego too. Good theology, great workshops on marriage and family, raising kids, living a Christian life. Good/ excellent rock worship, IF you like that sort of thing.

We were Evangelical Protestants for 20 years before becoming Catholics, and we found strong believers, Spirit-filled worship, good preaching in these churches. There are plenty of small groups within them to get to know a sub-group of people very well. Great Bible teaching.

What I began to yearn for, tho, was the Eucharist at the center of things, and the Creed (vs a Mission Statement) and other ancient foundational beliefs. As a musician myself, I rarely appreciated the rock worship and always yearned for the Great Hymns, but that is secondary. The megachurches are a great place to gather in new believers and teach them the faith, and can do this with great worship and teaching how to live the Christian life — I do not find this in the Catholic church.

For me, tho, becoming Catholic has been a Journey Home, and I would not go back.


22 posted on 10/11/2009 10:57:04 AM PDT by bboop (Tar and feathers -- good back then, good now)
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To: Steelfish

ping


23 posted on 10/11/2009 11:00:44 AM PDT by happygrl (Hope and Change or Rope and Chains?)
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To: bboop

The small groups were difficult to fit into. I remember going onto the churches website to get into them only to find out that many of them didn’t exist anymore. It’s just a who do you know world (even in the church).


24 posted on 10/11/2009 11:00:51 AM PDT by fkabuckeyesrule
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To: Steelfish

I don’t think the negative comments here are warrented. I have attended Saddleback and everything I’ve heard indicates a strong opposition to abortion, euthanasia and other concerns of ‘conservative’ Christians.

50% of the members are former Catholics. Just because we have chosen to worship in a manner that doesn’t appeal to you, doesn’t mean that you are ‘correct’ or that we are ‘correct’.

Would you rather that the thousands of folks who find a connection to God in a megachurch just stay home and read the funny papers on Sunday?

As to the disdain for ‘mega’ churches; have you ever visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in NYC? Especially on Sunday?


25 posted on 10/11/2009 11:04:22 AM PDT by Happyinmygarden (Yes, actually, I have pretty much seen and heard it all before...)
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To: Steelfish

“I suspect many of them are ex-Catholics who don’t and cannot relate to the serious liturgy and instruction of the Catholic Church. Clapping, dancing, swaying, rumba are all part of the Rick Warren theology.”

Neither one (”liturgy” or swaying) is going to get them anywhere with God.


26 posted on 10/11/2009 11:06:45 AM PDT by RoadTest (Religion never saved anyone, and never will.)
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To: Steelfish

Being a traditionalist who prefers churches small enough to know at least the majority if not every single member of the body I truly struggle to understand or affirm the megachurch phenomena. Both Hitler and Obama drew crowds. Numbers do not impress me. However, I do wonder if the attendees are developing a growing faith that they will hand down from generation to generation or are they in a here for the moment mode. I wonder if the music will withstand the test of time that the classic hymns have. I wonder if the participants are caring for one another or if they will simply move from building to building where the stage is brighter and the music grander. The only question that matters is ...is God pleased? Is he the one being worshipped or is it the stage presenters? One observation that cannot be ignored is if these “churches” are thriving in California then Hollywood, government programs and the glitz and glam of the secular world is not filling the void in the way that only the indwelling spirit of God can do.


27 posted on 10/11/2009 11:07:25 AM PDT by Notasoccermom
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To: Happyinmygarden

“I don’t think the negative comments here are warrented. I have attended Saddleback and everything I’ve heard indicates a strong opposition to abortion, euthanasia and other concerns of ‘conservative’ Christians.”

Yes, you’re right. Post #4 couldn’t be farther off the mark if it were on Alpha Centauri.


28 posted on 10/11/2009 11:09:33 AM PDT by RoadTest (Religion never saved anyone, and never will.)
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To: Steelfish

29 posted on 10/11/2009 11:15:48 AM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: RoadTest

Liturgy is the “Word of God” sanctified.


30 posted on 10/11/2009 11:23:31 AM PDT by Steelfish
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To: Steelfish

I attend a “mega-church”, although not in California. Any church can be dead or church-lite, no matter what the size.

You can tell a tree by its fruit.


31 posted on 10/11/2009 11:33:59 AM PDT by Reddy
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To: KoRn

I grew up in Texas, but I now live in California.

I am actually very impressed with many Christians in California.

Most Christians out here face persecution daily. It is not a welcoming environment for Christians, but we are still here.

I don’t go to a mega-church. Mine is small and meets in a school. It is contemporary. I grew up in the Methodist church, and when I moved to California I felt like the Methodist churces were dead spiritually. They had their traditional services, but didn’t seem alive spiritually. I switched to a church that felt alive spiritually. The members are actively reading the Bible and they take care of each other. We pray a lot, and we reach out to our community. We also send out quite a few missionaries to Morrocco and China.


32 posted on 10/11/2009 11:36:59 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: Steelfish
A handful have risen to national prominence -- notably Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and its celebrity pastor, the Rev. Rick Warren.

When you have folks like RW singing the praises of Barack Hussein Obama, then you ought to be very careful about listening to their theology.

RW has done the church a service in emphasizing the need for Christians to open up and help their neighbors--the service of Christ. I fear, though, his embrace leads to an unthinking open-mindedness that results in a "all things are acceptable" attitude.

RW praised the government of Syria, IIRC. And he doesn't seem too concerned about his friend Hussein's attitude about abortion. He also apparently backed off his opposition of the gay marriage ban in California. That is bad news.

Good works are fine--and Rick's church does perform them. I think the cost is on the teaching side.

I also, by the way, am critical of churches that rail and scream against abortion and gays...but do NOTHING to show the unwed mothers or people struggling with their sexuality the love of Christ.

We have to be strong on BOTH sides--embrace and defend the truth, but in love. IOW, be like Jesus. :)

33 posted on 10/11/2009 11:54:45 AM PDT by Recovering_Democrat
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To: CondorFlight

churchianity not christianity?


34 posted on 10/11/2009 12:16:35 PM PDT by protest1
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To: Steelfish
“I suspect many of them are ex-Catholics who don’t and cannot relate to the serious liturgy and instruction of the Catholic Church. Clapping, dancing, swaying, rumba are all part of the Rick Warren theology.”

Wow!
That's huge and probably erroneous broad brush.
Most are probably from mainline, liberal infested churches.

Some of the mega churches do a very good job. They are not for me; as community with other believers would seem to be impossible in these churches.

35 posted on 10/11/2009 12:22:01 PM PDT by HereInTheHeartland (Just say no to Soylent Green health care)
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To: CondorFlight

Most megachurches are extremely conservative and many of those who join them do so after finding mainstream churches too liberal. I joined one after being raised Episcopalian. I found the teaching absolutely Biblical.

You have to understand that they don’t start out being megachurches. Ours started as half a dozen people in the pastor’s living room twenty years ago and it grew at a log rate because people are so hungry for such teaching. The pastors’ sermons are essentially lessons on How To Get Closer to Jesus. People start taking notes, frantic to remember each golden word, so the pastors help them out by putting it on slides. One thing leads to another, more people come, the facilities expand to accommodate them all, parishioners tell their friends, parishioners start agitating to have a church school where their kids can be properly instructed in the Word, and pretty soon you have a megachurch with a 50-acre campus, a fleet of buses to bring in the poor who don’t have cars, and off-duty cops paid double time to manage the traffic jams every weekend.

This is not a bad thing. These folks may not worship as you do, but there’s no reason to suppose their faith is in any way deficient or is less appreciated by the Lord than yours.


36 posted on 10/11/2009 12:53:54 PM PDT by ottbmare (I could agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.)
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To: Steelfish

“the “Word of God” sanctified.”

- - - talk about carrying coals to Newcastle!

The Word Of God sanctifies - it doesn’t need sanctifying. Liturgies are traditions of men.


37 posted on 10/11/2009 1:19:32 PM PDT by RoadTest (Religion never saved anyone, and never will.)
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To: Steelfish

I belong to a mega church. There are small groups inside the church to join. It thrills my heart to gather with a huge crowd of Christians and sing praise and worship on Sunday Morning. I have been to churches all over the country. In the Northeast, many of the churches are small and dying. I have attended some and the music is nothing to write home about. Some people get all bent out of shape if you dare to play anything but an organ or piano or if you sing something wrote in the last 50 years. I say lets sing a new song unto the Lord.


38 posted on 10/11/2009 1:29:32 PM PDT by sportutegrl (If liberals could do math, they would be conservatives.)
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To: RoadTest

“The Word Of God sanctifies”

Of course but only when read, correctly understood, and proclaimed.


39 posted on 10/11/2009 1:35:46 PM PDT by Steelfish
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To: Happyinmygarden
50% of the members are former Catholics.

Do you have a citation for that claim?

40 posted on 10/11/2009 1:38:21 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture)
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To: HereInTheHeartland

You’d be surprised. Many of these “rumba” Pentecostalist/Charismatic Churches in Latin American are poaching on Catholics with an entertainment brand of “Christian Lite.”


41 posted on 10/11/2009 1:45:33 PM PDT by Steelfish
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To: spikeytx86

San Diego has 5 congressmen.
3 are major Conservative Republicans.

Darrell Issa, Bryan Bilbray and Marine Col. Duncan Hunter


42 posted on 10/11/2009 1:49:13 PM PDT by SoCalPol (Reagan Republican for Palin 2012)
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To: Steelfish
If it brings people closer to God, why does it matter what the size of the Church is? My Church is contemporary, and we like modern songs by contemporary Christian artists - no boring organ music, dusty, staid 200 year-old songs or medieval chants. I like it, and I see no point in castigating those who do.

As long as the focus is on Jesus Christ and his gospel, the type of music used or the size of the church is unimportant.

43 posted on 10/11/2009 2:01:46 PM PDT by reagan_fanatic (Hope....Change...Bullsh*t)
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To: Steelfish

*Liturgy is the “Word of God” sanctified.*

This is Correct be it Catholic, Lutheran or Episcopal.

The mega churches are side shows. The Rock here in
San Diego is in the city area. Former Charger, Miles McPherson is the Pastor with over 12,000 members.

Anyone who leaves a traditional and orthodox form of worship
for the side shows was never rooted in the orthodox to begin with.


44 posted on 10/11/2009 2:02:54 PM PDT by SoCalPol (Reagan Republican for Palin 2012)
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To: fkabuckeyesrule

I did that too. Am not much of a joiner, and I was in the music ministry, so we had our own group. I kind of liked the anonymity of the larger church, and I really loved all the good teaching about how to live a Christian life.


45 posted on 10/11/2009 2:23:57 PM PDT by bboop (Tar and feathers -- good back then, good now)
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To: steve86

“Do you have a citation for that claim?”

Rick Warren announced it clearly and concisely from the pulpit one Sunday about two months ago. I was surprised to hear it, and as a former Catholic it stuck in my memory. At the same time he announced that a total of 63 different languages are spoken by the members.


46 posted on 10/11/2009 4:44:37 PM PDT by Happyinmygarden (Yes, actually, I have pretty much seen and heard it all before...)
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