Entertainment Worship Increasing Popularity

( [email protected] ) May 04, 2004 08:26 AM EDT

The Oneighty Ministry in Tulsa, Oklahoma, focused on bringing the youth back to the church is the largest of its kind. Worship Services are held in a multimillion-dollar 92,000-square-foot-building complete with video games, glassed-in basketball court, and iMacs with internet access. Around 2,000-3,000 teens come every Wednesday to participate in the “new” form of fellowship.

Rev. Willie George started the ministry because he wanted to focus on the ailing youth group, says Blaine Bartel, Oneighty's national director.

"You've got to have the hook -- the message of the Gospel. But you've got have bait on the hook," Bartel says. "We've got to have things that appeal to kids."

Oneighty, which refers to a 180-degree turn of repentance, has been adopted by 100 unrelated youth groups across the country.

Despite the crowds of teens that pour in to participate in the popular form of worship, critics are questioning the spirituality in the ministry approach that delivers much more entertainment.

According to Bartel, the ministry also holds "unplugged," Monday night small-group gatherings that include a Bible study.

Bartel says, “Oneighty is the result of failure.”