Christian Chronicle

Coming soon: worship at the movie theater

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Coming soon: worship at the movie theater (reporting from Torrance, Calif.): California church planters embrace their Church of Christ heritage but say ‘franchising’ a traditional approach won’t reach lost souls.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

TORRANCE, Calif. — When EPIC Church launches in this Los Angeles-area city of 150,000 souls in August, it won’t meet in a building with wooden pews or a steeple.

Rather, church planters hope to connect with postmodern seekers by conducting services in a movie theater in one of America’s largest shopping malls — perhaps while the expected summer blockbuster “Ben-Hur” plays next door.

“What better place to tell the story of restoration than the temple of our culture?” said lead planter Matt Raines, 38, who previously served as senior minister for the Chula Vista Church of Christ near San Diego.

“It’s the Agora — the marketplace of this little part of the world,” added fellow planter Jeff Brimberry, 23, who grew up in the Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas, where his father, Don, serves as an elder.

EPIC — sponsored by Kairos, a church-planting ministry associated with Churches of Christ — will emphasize the importance of baptism and celebrate the Lord’s Supper weekly.

“There’s a reason those two pieces are still here 2,000 years later,” Matt Raines said.

But even though the church planters stress their love and appreciation for their heritage, they don’t intend to “franchise” a traditional Church of Christ. They must, as they see it, be open to new approaches to reach a new generation with the good news of Jesus.

This story appears in the June 2016 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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