Church in the Cinema: I Visit LifeSong in Milbury, MA

Posted on October 17, 2011



Blackstone Valley Cinema deLux, Milbury, MA.

“The Church can’t transform the desires of people it’s trying to titillate,” according to G. Jeffrey MacDonald, author of the 2010 book “Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soul“.  I am writing this review from a Starbucks inside a Barnes and Noble Bookstore which is a three-minute walk from the Sunday worship service I have just experienced inside a movie theater.  There is a Gap store and Qdoba Eatery to my right and a Feng Sushi Bar and spray-on tan salon to the right.  The entire mall is packed with consumers.  Here in Barnes and Noble workers are removing the last vestiges of a CD and DVD sales area to make room for a Toy and Game area.  The CDs no longer sell.  It seemed to me that LifeSong and other new Christian “communities” seek to do for the Christian franchise what Barnes and Noble is attempting for “the bookstore”, re-engineering.  The demise of Borders Bookstores this summer reminds me that this is a life-or-death decision by Barnes and Noble.
There is no doubt that LifeSong has re-engineered the Christian message.  We’re in a cinema.  The pastor is sitting at a bistro table to preach.  He’s reading scripture from a smartphone.  I have a cup-holder built into me seat and I’m using it!  Have these cultural concessions made it impossible for me to be transformed here?

LifeSong was planted in 2005 through a partnership between the MetroWest Church in Ashland and the Association of Related Churches which has planted over 130 churches across 33 states.  The church launched with 380 first time participants, settled to 180 over five weeks, and is now up around 360.  I visit the church on Sunday, October 16, 2011.


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