On Sunday, we visited a church whose senior pastor is a Southern Grad. I was introduced to his wife through a mutual friend of mine from my working days on campus. It is such a blessing to know so many people who know so many people all over the country; especially when you just don't know where you are going to end up next! Anyway, the church happens to meet in a movie theater. I really didn't think that much about the location. I have long been accustomed to churches meeting in all different kinds of buildings; homes (basements in other countries where Christianity is not allowed), abandoned factories and industrial buildings, etc. So why not a movie theater? What Micah and I forgot to do was prepare the boys for where we would meet with God's people to worship. The minute we pulled in to the parking lot and they realized where we were, shouts of excitement exploded from both boys, "We're going to see Chance of Meatballs!!!" If you are unaware, they were referring to the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This is a flick they have wanted to see for a while now. Immediately, Micah and I extinguished their hopes and instead, focused on how fun and different it would be to have church in a movie theater. They were confused for a while, but handled it well. As we walked in the door and the smell of buttered popcorn and visions of cartoons to come consumed our senses, we again tried to refocus their attention on the task at hand. The really good news came when we realized they served coffee and doughnuts to those in attendance. Doughnuts can pacify little boys in a pinch when the prospect of candy is all around.
We got the boys into their respective "theaters" with children their ages and Micah and I joined the service. It is always an encouragement to see where God has sent and how He is is using those trained in ministry. I met face to face gals I had only talked to through mutual friends and made those connections as well. Always a plus when you are alone in a new place.
After the service, the race to transform the space back into a place to see movies began. As we exited, we noticed the first glimpses of electronic signs above the doors to each theater lighting up with the names of the movies playing that afternoon. One mom walking beside me told her husband, "I'll go get Johnny. He's in Zombieland~". You can imagine my surprise. I had heard of churches giving names to kids classes to differentiate them, but this was a new take on what may be appropriate! Sure enough, above the door to Theater 2 where Elijah was learning about Jesus with other 3-year-olds, Zombieland was playing just 40 minutes later. Andrew was on his way to viewing Hangover had we stayed around longer.
We were thankful for the experience and thankful the boys were given an example of how the church is the church regardless of where it meets. Andrew was able to clearly articulate the lesson he had learned in his class (no references to drinking at all:)). We look forward to visiting a couple other churches over the next weeks and then settle in to one for our stint here in PA. There are of course churches around here with significant historic significance Micah is interested in checking out.