Monday, June 08, 2009

It's a Boat. No, it's a Church: Is this the worship wave of the future?

I don't care how many times I've driven by this boat, I always slow and take a long look. Yep, it's boat. It's been there a long while, but still, it's a boat in a parking lot, and not on a trailer being towed somewhere. And it's at least a mile from the water. I'm sure when it first arrived (and my guess is a church-goer just happened to have this old, unused fishing boat languishing at his dock) everyone thought they had an inventive, surefire way to attract families and kids to church in a fun, inviting and truly unique way. I searched online and could not find another example of a church holding worship services from a boat...on land.

The New Beginnings Christian Church came about from the joining of two churches, one founded in 1946 and the other 1958. (In Tampa, those are pretty well established church congregations, although we do have a few with 100 year histories.)

The good folks of New Beginnings Christian Church first began services from this boat - and it is an actual boat, maybe 60-70 feet long - in 1972. The pulpit features a ship's wheel and is positioned on the bow on Sundays (at 8:30am) and musicians and the ministers conduct the service right on the boat facing the parking lot. Worship-goers either sit in chairs set up in front or in their cars which are parked fan like out front. The entire service is broadcast on FM radio so folks can enjoy the comfort of their air conditioned cars if they wish. Before each service donuts, coffee and juice are available from a refreshment center. As a younger person, in a variety of cars, I would take dates to drive-in theaters. It seemed like a good idea at the time and was very popular with all my friends. Of course, that was only so we could enjoy the big movie screen, excellent stereo-quality sound out of a metal box hooked to our window, the delightful night air, cooling breezes and mosquitoes. Other then being able to stay in your car, I don't think my drive-in theater experience and this drive-in worship service share anything else in common.

I did go online to try and find anything like this, anywhere, but only came up with "Boat-in-Worship" services held on Lake Wawasee in Indiana. Boaters literally bring their boats to the service and stay aboard. The scene looked really nice in photos. But, a boat, high and dry, landlocked in a parking lot?? Have you ever seen or heard of a church holding worship services like this?

I just found a new and delightful blog site that focuses on PARIS. It's well worth visiting. See Paris through the eyes of Americans as they visit and photograph the incredible, simply beautiful sights of the City of Lights.


Lois said...

Fabulous post Frank! I have never heard of a church like that and I'm sure there is not another one like it anywhere.

Jacob said...

Super interesting and funny, Frank. Most folks like their religion high and dry, but others...well...I wonder if that boat was rockin' when everybody said "Amen"?

Thanks very much for the link! I appreciate your kind words, too! You're the greatest!

Vogon Poet said...

I know that we must respect other people's beliefs, but this is so funny. You found a rare and unique kind of 'temple', my compliments for the catch! Great post and unbeatable image.