Skip to comments.Megachurches to Pack Out Sports Arenas on Easter (sports arenas in USA packed for Easter services)
Posted on 04/04/2010 7:33:26 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Churches across the country have rented out sports arenas in anticipation of big crowds for their Easter Sunday services.
* Saddleback Church Easter View Full Image (Photo: Saddleback Church) Saddleback Church holds its 2010 Easter services at Angel Stadium in southern California.
* Christians Urged to Agree on Common Easter Date * Pastor: Radical Love and Resurrection Catapulted Christianity * Use Easter to Break a Growth Barrier * Mars Hill Recaptures Bloody Murder of Christ for Good Friday * Texas Megachurch to Give Out Cars, TVs at Easter Services
Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in southern California is preparing to pack out Angel Stadium with some 50,000 people on Sunday.
Even in Vermont which polls have shown to be the least religious state the Essex Alliance Church rented a university gymnasium to accommodate an expected 4,000 people.
"The University of Vermont is accustomed to having good sized gatherings at Patrick Gym. We hope to be one of the largest," said Lead Pastor Scott Slocum of Essex.
Attendance numbers at churches typically swell for many churches on Easter. For Saddleback, Easter and other special days like anniversaries have been crucial to the church's growth, Warren noted. This weekend, the California megachurch is celebrating its 30th anniversary at its Easter services and even a baseball stadium has proven to be too small for the event.
The church had to add a Saturday Easter service to accommodate the additional tens of thousands of people who wanted to attend.
"I am always stunned at how much you care for your friends who don't know Jesus and how you bring them to our worship services," Warren said in a note to his congregation. "It saddens me that people who need to be saved by Jesus will be turned away from Easter Sunday because even a stadium was not big enough."
Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., one of the fastest growing churches in the country, will also be taking its Easter services to a sports venue Time Warner Cable Arena.
Pastor Steven Furtick has asked his mega-congregation to "egg the city" by distributing plastic eggs containing tickets to the Easter worship service to friends and neighbors. The church expects an attendance of 10,000.
"They need to go to church somewhere on Easter. Everybody in Charlotte needs to be in church on Easter so they may as well come to church with you," Furtick said at a recent Sunday service, noting that people are usually open during Easter.
Elevation Church will also be gathering items such as food and clothing to "practically demonstrate the love of Christ" to the city.
"I think this is really going to be a great demonstration of what the body of Christ looks like when we walk in the resurrection power of Jesus," he said.
The big Easter celebrations come as a recent Barna Group study found that 31 percent of active churchgoers said they would definitely invite an unchurched friend to accompany them to an Easter service. Most active churchgoers said they would be open to doing this.
Rick Warren is all about Rick Warren
I find this type of church to be completely impersonal and anonymous.
People are hungry for Jesus, bring em in! Rich Warren has some valuable words for people who are hurting.
Pray for America
This is a Holier-Than-Them Caucus thread. Please keep your charity and open-mindedness off of here.
Is this not a proper forum to tell a nice Easter story?
Don’t want to if it’s political garbage.
Tip: hurricane warning for later this year.
As long as your commend evidences smug superiority to one or more of the subjects of the article, go right ahead!
An allowable example: “Any church bigger than mine sucks.”
You can also say “Big churches suck” as long as you allow that big is relative, so that if you belong to a church of a billion people and are talking about a church of 20,000 people, you can still be smugly superior.
Dunno dude. I’m Catholic. Went to a baptist service
(called it mass) in Seoul. Pretty nice experience, since I’ve never
been to a baptist church in the US. Was nice. Sorry wrong
thread. That’s all.
I’ve been to services in Seoul. Very awesome, irrespective of denomination. (And I indeed appreciate your comments. Happy Easter!)
I just returned from Easter service at a church in Carthage, Missouri. It was loud, long and nearly devoid of any mention of the reason for an Easter service.
The minister is an outstanding speaker but the influence of modern life is making the services more of a social gathering than a worship service.
Reverence is out the door. You’re a freak if you wear a suit. Coffee,cola and bare feet are the norm in the sanctuary. The male roles in the church are being given over to women.
It seems nearly pointless to attend church anymore.
One megachurch celebrates Easter with a Million Dollar Giveaway
Youve never seen an Easter egg hunt like this before.
Bay Area Fellowship, the largest church in Corpus Christi, is giving away flat-screen televisions, skateboards, Fender guitars, furniture and 15 cars yes, cars at its Easter services.
And even those who dont win big will walk away with something. The church has gathered donations for 15,000 gift bags, each with about $300 of free goods and services.
Were going to give some stuff away and say, Imagine how great heaven is going to be if you feel that excited about a car, lead Pastor Bil Cornelius said. Its completely free all you have to do is receive him.
He hopes the prizes will help Bay Area lure some people who dont normally go to church or those who have lapsed in their faith.
A lot of people wont come to Easter services because they think, Well, I havent been good, Cornelius said. Well, thats not free. Thats not what its about. You dont have to be good to come to church.
The prizes are meant as a metaphor for Cornelius Easter message of what he calls the ultimate giveaway. Just as the prizes are free for the winners, so is heaven. But someone first had to pay for all the cars and furniture and TVs, as Jesus paid for peoples sins.
The ultimate giveaway is that Jesus gave his life for us, Cornelius said. When we think about the spirit of giving, we always think about Christmas. But really the ultimate spirit of giving is Easter.
Cornelius, a laid-back pastor with spiky hair and bluejeans, has weathered criticism of his megachurch before. Some say its rock n roll band, flashy lights and large size stray too far from Jesus true message.
So he knows theres bound to be criticism of the giveaway plan.
We know its unconventional, he said. We know some people of faith arent going to agree with it.
Michael Emerson, a sociology professor at Rice University and co-director of its Institute for Urban Research, said Wow several times as Bay Areas giveaway was described to him. He said he had never heard of anything like it before.
I never have, not to this extreme, not at all, Emerson said. This is something.
He said some can criticize the plan for the same reasons they might megachurches in general.
Another critique of the movement is theyre extremely comfortable with consumer society, Emerson said, whereas some believers would say, This is not who Jesus was, this was not what he taught.
Cornelius also isnt aware of a church giveaway before on such a large scale. A search of news reports shows that the giant Lakewood Church in Houston, led by Joel Osteen, gave away $57,000 worth of donated Left Behind video games to its childrens ministry last Easter. Another small church in Ohio plans to give away $500 to a member and to a guest this Easter.
Last week, Bay Area volunteers were busy detailing the cars and putting together bicycles. They had to cut a large space in the back of the chapels stage for the cars to fit through during Easter services.
Bay Area raised all these donations in two weeks.
The idea started in a staff meeting at The Crossing church in Elk River, Minn. Lead Pastor Eric Dykstra was planning a series he called Joy Ride, about the ultimate joy Jesus can bring. He wanted to use a car on stage to illustrate his point.
As part of the series, we thought we should give away a car, Dykstra said. We were just sitting in a meeting and thought, Why not?
The Crossing was able to secure one new car mostly donated by a dealership (with a little cash raised from members) and is working on another to give away.
Dykstra is part of a group of young pastors mentored by Cornelius. Dykstra mentioned the car to Cornelius during a meeting a few weeks ago.
Then he calls me two days later and said, Hey, I think were going to get several cars, Dykstra said. Hes been inspired to try to gather more prizes for his members, but he doesnt expect to outdo Cornelius and Bay Area.
He took our idea and he blew it up, Dykstra said, laughing. Its not really a competition. Its more like hes going to win.
Cornelius asked church members to donate during services two weeks ago. The response since has been overwhelming. The plan was promoted as a $1 million giveaway, but the actual value is going to be much higher.
The 15,000 gift bags alone are worth $4.5 million if all the goods and services are cashed in. The coupons have no cash value.
Our people have been incredibly generous, Cornelius said. We have people writing checks for cars for people they dont even know.
Among the 15 cars all used but with low mileage are an Audi A4, Jeep, Chevy Aveo, Mazda RX8, Volkswage on Jetta, two BMWs, Chevy Avalanche, Jaguar and two Mitsubishi Eclipses.
Some of the cars were donated by dealers like Torres, and the others were bought with cash donated by members. The cars were bought at dealer auctions to get the lowest prices, Cornelius said.
Wilcox Furniture also made a large donation of bedroom sets, recliners and other furniture. CEO George Moore, who attends the church with his family, estimates the total value between $12,000 and $16,000.
ME TOO! I am looking for a tiny one room church, and I found one here in our area. It is so tiny. I plan to check it out. I am TIRED of the huge ones where you never know ANYONE’s name.
Man, it is all about the GIMMEE generation now! Even to go to church it is GIMMEE GIMMEE GIMMEE, where’s mine, I want one! Some how I don’t think this is what God had planned for us, and Jesus would never approve! I mean if a family is down on its luck and NEEDS car repairs, or a loaner car FINE, but don’t give out NEW cars! this is SICK SICK SICK