Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 53443
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2017/12/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
12/16   

2009/10/11-22 [Reference/Religion] UID:53443 Activity:nil
10/9    What do suburbs in LA have in common? A swelling of bible thumpers:
        http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-megachurches11-2009oct11,0,1223443.story?track=rss
2017/12/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
12/16   

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www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-megachurches11-2009oct11,0,1223443.story?track=rss
Afghanistan California Christians worship in a big way The state has more megachurches than anywhere else in the country, with the majority in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego. single page Shepherd of the Hills Church A worshiper gets caught up in the music at Shepherd of the Hills in Porter Ranch, which attracts 8,000 people to its six weekend services. California has 193 megachurches, defined as those with at least 2,000 congregants. decrease text size Text Size Once again, the Sunday faithful have packed the cavernous sanctuary at Shepherd of the Hills Church in the San Fernando Valley, clapping and swaying for Jesus as a band rocks the hall. Most churches would be thrilled to fill their sanctuaries any day of the year. Shepherd of the Hills, a nondenominational church in Porter Ranch, does it six times a weekend, attracting 8,000 people to its energetic services and offering a lesson about the growth of evangelical Christianity in California. Thanks to good weather, sprawling suburbs and a number of charismatic pastors, the Golden State has more of these megachurches -- defined as those with at least 2,000 congregants -- than any other state. California is home to 193, slightly more than Texas with 191, according to the most recent survey by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, one of the nation's leading authorities on megachurches. The majority of these congregations are in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego, an area that some who study the phenomenon call the Southern California Bible Belt. A handful have risen to national prominence -- notably Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and its celebrity pastor, the Rev. But dozens of other large, if lesser-known, churches also are growing, even as many traditional houses of worship struggle to fill their pews. The megachurches are expanding by adapting to changing times and tastes, scholars say. Many have jettisoned formal rituals such as organs and hymns in favor of Christian rock music and overhead projection screens that display lyrics and prayers. They deliver upbeat biblical messages about applying faith in everyday life and building a personal relationship with God. They organize parishioners into small "life" groups that study Scripture. And they encourage their followers to recruit new members. Although some critics refer to the megachurch phenomenon as "church lite," evangelical Christian scholars say the congregations are reaching the unaffiliated or disaffected by turning church attendance into a more comfortable, positive experience, bound by fewer rules or obligations than traditional churches. with the life-changing good news about Jesus Christ," said Warren Bird, research director of the Dallas-based Leadership Network, a nonprofit that disseminates information about innovative church practices. Southern California's sprawling suburban housing tracts have provided ready supplies of potential new members -- including Geraldine Victoria, who was raised Catholic but decided to visit Shepherd of the Hills on a recent Sunday at a friend's invitation. The 32-year-old Glendale nurse said she was attracted to the spontaneity of the worship service, a departure from what she called the formality of Catholicism. "I think I want more," Victoria said as she emerged from the sanctuary. Shepherd of the Hills is rapidly outgrowing its home at the foot of the Santa Susana Mountains, in the northwestern San Fernando Valley. Its gym doubles as a second sanctuary, and church leaders have plans for a 3,500-seat auditorium. It also has opened satellite church campuses in Agua Dulce, Lancaster, Woodland Hills, the Westside and Fremont, near San Jose. "We're bursting at the seams," said senior pastor Dudley C Rutherford, one of 29 ministers on staff. We're big on touching your heart and letting the word of God speak to you." The number of megachurches has grown steadily for the last four decades. Researchers say there are now at least 1,350 such churches nationwide, more than double the number a decade ago. By contrast, most US churches attract 500 people or fewer on Sundays. "They are essentially re- creating a small-town milieu and giving folks . a place to plug in and share experiences with like-minded people," said sociologist Scott Thumma of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Connecticut, who studies the megachurch movement. But the growth also has sparked criticism that large churches are siphoning people away from smaller congregations.