This past Sunday, I, along with Lucy Snow, visited Faith Chapel. Faith Chapel is a pentecostal church, belonging to the Assemblies of God branch of pentecostalism. The sermon was given on the theme of worship. The lead Pastor, Keith Short, explained how there was, “no correct method or form to worship,” however he continued to mock the methods that members of other faiths practiced. I was struck by the hypocrisy of his sermon. I began to wonder if this is the shape that modern sectarian churches are taking. I believe that many sectarian churches realize how they are unappealing to outsiders and are taking steps to become more denominational. This was evident at Faith Chapel, where Miller’s Reinventing American Protestantism came to life.
Although Faith Chapel was nowhere near the Evangelical Megachurch aesthetic that Miller describes, they were in the beginning stages of incorporating these elements into their service. When I entered the building, I was immediately welcomed and given a newcomers packet. The very first piece of information listed on this packet was the church’s social media accounts. This, accompanied with the worship service illustrated to me Faith Chapel’s move to denominationalize. During the worship service, televisions were used to project the lyrics for the audience. The pieces that were chosen were contemporary Evangelical songs that I grew up singing at Sandals Church, an Evangelical Megachurch. Faith Chapel has been making big strides towards technological savviness and modernization. However, will that be enough to overpower the theologically sectarian congregation? I do not believe so.
During my visit, Pastor Short just so happened to dig at all three religions I have been affiliated with in my lifetime. He mocked Catholics by saying that their services are so ritualistic, that their members are “cold-hearted and lifeless.” He mocked Evangelical Megachurches when he explained their use of lights and sound engineering. He said to his congregation, “I am not asking you to be judgemental, but wonder with me, is this worship in the flesh or worship in the spirit?” He then poked at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by claiming that Modern day Temples were simply flashy structures meant to distract. He doubted the serious faithfulness and worship of every religion except his own, and I do not believe Faith Chapel with ever be a denominational congregation until that changes.