I once attended a large ‘mega’ church in Oklahoma City because I was visiting and acquainted via school with the minister. They just built a new building and he was quite keen to show it off.
The building was in the suburbs, and new the sanctuary was large and spacious. There were clearly marked signs pointing to the restrooms, the fellowship hall, and the sanctuary. There were hand sanitizer dispensers outside each door. The bulletin spelled out the order of worship clearly, and gave hints and the customs of the congregation. There was theater-style seating, with wide aisles and lots of leg room. The arm rests were padded and I could stretch out my legs comfortably. The minister was only a few meters from me, but they also had large projection screens so that I could opt to watch the sermon ‘larger than life’. And there were no troublesome hymnals to have to locate or share. All the songs were projected up on screens for all to see.
My friend came up after the service SO very proud of his church and asked me my thoughts. In all honesty, all I could think of was “I just went to church and never touched anyone. My hip didn’t rub up against anyone’s hip. I never had to share a hymnal, or ask for help to locate things. I didn’t even have to look at the live ‘performance’ of either the minister or the worship leaders. I could do it virtually. This has been one of the loneliest worship experiences I’ve ever had.”
It is experiences like this which make me love the city: the hassle and the congestion, the inconvenience and the need to deal with that which is less desirable. I want to touch and be touched. Even when it means risking harm. I want to get my hands dirty.