Heritage church attendance booming
It’s not your grandmother’s church. No stained glass or organs here. The pastor wears jeans, and encourages the congregation to ”come as they are”. And thousands are expected to do just that at Heritage Church in Rock Island, a converted tennis club that expects to double its attendance Easter weekend, from it’s usual 3,000 to 6,000 people.
”Some people are Christmas and Easter people. Our goal every Easter is to present something in such a way for people to re-engage. Easter is the number one time in the church year when people start coming back to church and begin to make it a new habit”, said Pastor John Bray.
The contemporary Christian church offers a full service coffee bar in the lobby, and services are an all out audio and visual production. The music is more top 40, no hymns, the message and music resonating with baby boomers who have left the more traditional churches they grew up in.
”I think people are looking for a faith that connects to their life, the music here is something similiar to what they would usually listen to on a regular basis”, said Steven Abel, the church’s young worship minister.
”I grew up on a pipe organ, piano and stained glass”, said Pastor Bray. ”That’s not who we are”.
Bray took over a small and dying congregation in the 70′s, right after graduating from Indiana Weslyan. The church took off in the 90′s, now with three other branches, two in Iowa.
”So many times the church world gets stuck in our tradition and out past”, Bray said.
While it’s not for everyone, Brays says the Heritage way is working for thousands of Quad Citians looking to re-connect with their faith.