A congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) made the front page of the Boca Raton [Fla.] News. Entitled "New 1,500-seat worship center opens at Spanish River," the piece highlights the ministry and worship of Spanish River Church, one of the better-known PCA churches.
Written by Kate McClare, the article says: "Cue the lights, bring up the sound, and roll the videotape: It's show time at Spanish River Church, where a brand-new, multi-million dollar worship center has turned Sunday services into entertainment extravaganzas.
"Services at the 30-year-old Presbyterian church have long included dramatic interpretation, soaring music and special videos to bring the Gospel to life. Now, in the $9.3 million worship center that opened this week, the Gospel is larger than life, presented with a fully rigged, professional-quality theatrical stage that includes massive video screens and state-of-the-art lighting, sound and computer graphics. It takes a crew of up to a dozen technicians to run it all, working from a spacious new control booth high above the congregation.
"But leaders of the church . . . are most excited about the vastly increased capacity of the new worship center. Its 1,500 seats are twice the number in the old center. They also are proud of the series of child-care rooms that can accommodate up to 192 children while parents are at services."
The article continues: "Church leaders said their message hasn't changed, but is only being packaged more effectively.
"'All of this is designed so that people can understand the Gospel, and to give people an understanding of why Jesus died on the cross,' said the Rev. Gary Treichler, executive pastor, during an informal tour of the new facility. . . . 'There are a lot of people who come to this church who haven't been to church, ever, and there are a lot of people who have been to other churches and want to try something new.'
"Like many churches, Spanish River finds it necessary to use new ways of presenting the ancient message of the Christian faith. 'You have to think about what people are used to,' said Ron Tobias, the church's business manager and director of its men's ministry. 'People are used to high-energy, multi-media presentations of information, he said, so 'we try to take the message of the Gospel and present it in those ways.'
"Bruce Anderson, director of music and programming, demonstrated that approach with a video created by the church's Tech Team. The team videotaped a drive through Mizner Park in Boca Raton and down Federal Highway into Fort Lauderdale, speeding up the tape to show frantically traveling cars and pedestrians. The tape played on the two 12-by-16-foot rear-projection video screens placed on either side of the stage, while 'Through the Noise,' a song by the Christian rock band Truth, blared through speakers throughout the facility.
"The point, said Anderson, was 'how to live a Christian life in a world that continually bombards us with other stuff.'"
On opening day, a total of close to 1,900 people attended three services at the new facility.
The article appeared in the newspaper on July 17, 1999. Contacted almost two months later, the staff reporter who authored the article, Kate McClare, said that the church apparently was pleased with her piece, since no one from Spanish River had complained with regard to the story. A staff worker at Spanish River said that they were "very pleased" with the article.
Spanish River Church is a prominent PCA congregation. Denominational statistics reveal that there were 1,776 communicant members, but zero non-communicant members, at the end of 1998. Estimated morning attendance was 1,553.
Senior Pastor of the Boca Raton church is the Rev. David Nicholas, who has served in an advisory capacity for the denominational Mission to North America Committee, as well as being a member of the Committee. Spanish River Church has been held up as a model church by home missions experts in the PCA, and the congregation has helped to fund many PCA church planters.