A church in Toronto, Canada called The Meeting House has embraced technology to make its services more exciting and alluring in reaction to declining church attendance across the country. The result is a steady increase in attendance of a younger crowd who would normally not go to service.
In "The Meeting House Manifesto," Pastor Bruxy Cavey outlines the group's new approach to liturgy. "God's creativity and desire to passionately engage people of different cultures, times, and needs means that Christians must be willing to continually retranslate his message into new and relevant forms of communication."
This “new and relevant” form includes a five-piece Christian rock band, three industrial-quality television cameras and crews, three movie screens, and a sound system that includes two subwoofers and six house speakers, all housed inside a 627-seat theatre.
The multimedia service is coordinated by the programming pastor, Jamie Sanfilippo to complement Cavey’s sermons. Using state of the art software, Sanfilippo blends video from three camera crews, trendy electronica music, graphics, movie clips, and Bible verses.
The new form of service is drawing attendees from all around the area. Lois Johnson and her husband drive an hour to Oakville every Sunday to take part. . "I know that what they're doing here is definitely designed to appeal to a younger audience," she says. "But we're in our 60s, and we don't find it distracting at all. We find it provides an excellent lead-in to the message delivered during each service."
Tim, a 12-year old who has been attending with his parents for about five months said enthusiastically, “"It's not nearly as boring as our old church."
The Meeting House has also harnessed the power of the internet to reach out to a larger audience. Posted services on its website has been drawing attention from Christians world-wide. “We've gotten feedback from people in Saudi Arabia and in China who listen to our sermon each week on the Internet, who download notes for our bible study sessions, and who consider The Meeting House their home," says Cavey.
The effort of The Meeting House to improve service by embracing technology has resulted in a small population burst of 800 new members over the period of five years. At least 50 per cent of the newcomers were between 18 and 35, usually the least likely group to attend church on Sundays.
Visit http://www.themeetinghouse.ca for more information.