Monday, January 5, 2009

Church Experiment #1: Solid Rock Church

What have I gotten myself into?

I began this journey having no idea what to expect. In fact, my biggest fear was showing up to church every week and experiencing nothing. The last thing anyone wants to read is 52 weeks of church reviews.

I had lots of questions Sunday morning. What to wear? What to take with me? Where to sit? Should I take notes or observe? Hide in the balcony or actively participate? Critique or experience? In the end, I decided to just show up and see what happened.

Solid Rock Church (www.solidrockchurch.org) is best known for the huge statue of Touchdown Jesus that faces Interstate 75 just north of Cincinnati, Ohio. There is also a pretty famous song called Big Butter Jesus about the statue. I have passed the church at least a hundred times, mocked the ridiculousness of Touchdown Jesus every time, and thought it would be a good place to begin my experiment. [Ironically, Touchdown Jesus burned down in 2010 after being struck by lightning. Nothing biblically cryptic there, right? Touchdown Jesus was rebuilt as Five-Dollar Footlong Jesus, with the Lord and Savior’s hands spread apart like he’s peddling Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwiches. Google it.]

I was right about beginning my experiment at Solid Rock.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.

27 comments:

Christopher Day said...

I'm already a HUGE fan of this experiment. Do you allow tagalongs?

So I'm assuming they didn't take you on a tour of the inside of the Gigantic Jesus? I have a friend who's convinced they're actually running a sweatshop inside the Savior. I mean, who would tear apart the Lord just to look for illegals?

random blogger said...

i've been looking forward to this since you first announced this little experiment. it's funny, although i've never been there myself, your description fits the picture in my mind.

Lori said...

Sounds a lot like the Church of God. I was never totally comfortable there. Especially not with spreaking in tongues or people just randomly shouting and rolling around on the ground.

Liz said...

Does anyone know how big its congregation is? I always wondered and assumed it is quite large...

Steve Fuller said...

There are three services each weekend - 9:00am, 11:30am, and 7:00pm. The auditorium looked like it could hold about a thousand people. I would say it was two thirds full. So, I am guessing 1,500ish.

Christopher Day said...

If you believe Wikipedia, their attendance is 3000+. Side note, I didn't realize the Big Butter Jesus had a real name.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_Kings_(statue)

Jeanette said...

Wow, what an awesome experiment. I am looking forward to hearing more.

Matt said...

It is essential to your experiment that you visit this church http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lvU-DislkI

Eric said...

I have attended that church a couple of times and have the same feelings. I too was uncomfortable almost the whole service, and the message was great. But I have never seen a more diversified congregation than they have. They must be doing something right.

Steve Fuller said...

Eric,

That is a good point. I briefly mentioned the 50/50 ratio, but you are right. Very few churches seem to be as diverse as Solid Rock.

Steve Fuller said...

Matt,

Benny has some anger issues.

J.M. Martin said...

If the pastor had a mullet and used the phrase "foot stompin'" I'd be compelled to return for at least one more week.

Sarah said...

lovin this experiment already! we once had some people visit Greater Cinc COG from Solid Rock to sing in the choir with us.. although i can't say that i haven't been that person praising God in some of the ways mentioned, i can understand the feeling of awkwardness from it.. because even though i spent the majority of my adolescence growing up in a COG.. there were some people that freaked me out a tad, too. :) for instance, some ladies we lovingly nicknamed the twisted sisters.. Mom & Jamie can appreciate that one. :)

John Arns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Arns said...

Great post, Steve. Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to the next 51.

Offensive Coordinator said...

This is a beautiful thing, Steve. I look forward to reading this every week to gain insight into how the body works as a whole in the eyes of a writer. Dude, You're like Ben Stein in the movie "Expelled" or the guy in the book "Casper goes to church" I love what your doing and can't wait to read next weeks entry.

Anonymous said...

Please, come to NewSong Vineyard in Harrison OH. 10:15 on Sundays.

erin said...

I have just discovered your blog and am a believer/pastor/photographer who grapples constantly w/ church and what it is and what it should be... am looking forward to journeying through this with you. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Soooo I stumbled on this and think it would be interesting for an experiment on religion...but as for churches, I would have to respectfully disagree. Sure, we can take things at face value, but popping into a church for one service doesn't allow one to ever get connected with others - and that's what the church was all about: connecting, living, supporting, experiencing life together.

But that's just one girl's opinion ;)

Anonymous said...

I recently spotted a church you may be interested in. Harvest Ranch, Cowboy's Church. It's out in Madison Township near Middletown, OH off of Route 4. It sounds interesting. Maybe I'll attend myself.

Anonymous said...

I am very interested in your journey and can't wait to read on. I have been to Solid Rock and love the choir. It's amazing how as christians we can go to a football game or a concert and get wild, scream and shout for the worldly people and things. But get a christian in a church and they are turned off by people getting wild for the lord. The one who created us, died for us and loves us more than anyone or thing. When we sit in church and jump up and down, shout, raise our hands or speak in a language that is only for the
Lord, we are considered over the top or wierd. (speaking in tounges comes out of emotion that is overwheling to the spirit, that words can't describe, but the lord knows the heart.) In Acts when they were in the upper room they were baptised in the holy spirit and spoke in tounges. When we are in worship...we should be focused on praise and greatfulness to the Lord for who he is. Not what everyone around us is doing. It is time with you and your savior. Time to thank him and honor for all that he has done, is doing and will do. Whether the people around you are true or not, is not for us to judge. It is between them and the Lord. If the preacher is speaking the true word of God..that is what matters. Be careful about looking to the actions of others. What is important is our personal walk with the Lord. Being a christian is not a denomination or religion. It is a personal relastionship with Jesus through his word and our obedience out of love. As far as being to friendly, I don't think that is bad. Most churches you go to have no life..and you can walk in and out and no one ever says a word to you. Why would you want to be in a place where know one takes the time to greet someone new? You can't build relationships with fellow believers if know one reaches out.

Shelli

Anonymous said...

I also forgot..

I believe the "touchdown" Jesus as you call it is supposed to represent Jesus as the living water

Shelli

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether you have you schedule already for the rest of the year. I recommend you try the 7PM Sunday service at Bellermaine Chapel on Xavier U campus.

Tiffany said...

just saw the jesus statue today. on our way home from perrysburg,oh. we stopped in and took lots of pics. It was different than most on the computer because of all the snow

Anonymous said...

I am really shocked that someone would go into a church and talk bad about gods ppl all i have to say is Mathew 7:1-6 judge not that you be not judged. for with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged for what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why do you behold the mote that is in your brothers eye, but consider not the beam in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, let me pull out the mote of your own eye; and behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then you shall see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brothers eye. give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast you your pearls before swine,lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you... may god bless you and pour his favor out on you

Anonymous said...

Farewell, Touchdown Jesu!

Bnonymous said...

Not to be confused with the other, much more well known Touchdown Jesus at U. Notre Dame.