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Resurrection Life Church

Inspired by Hemant Mehta‘s book, I Sold My Soul on Ebay, I decided to visit a local church this morning. Resurrection Life Church is an evangelical, charismatic megachurch in Grandville, Michigan. I chose this church to visit first mainly because a friend mentioned that they’re into the whole speaking in tongues thing. I’ve really wanted to see firsthand what could possibly induce such trance-like states in white middle class suburbia.

Although I didn’t witness any speaking in tongues this morning, it was an amazing experience that I won’t soon forget. It has reaffirmed and strengthened my belief that all religions are man-made and filled with superstitious absurdities. Granted, this probably isn’t the message they’re trying to get across, but the point couldn’t have been made any more plainly.

The pictures below were taken with my cellphone after the main service. Sorry for the graininess in the photos, it’s just a cellphone and I was trying to be discreet so Jesus, or one of his followers, wouldn’t smite me.

The Terminal

This is no ordinary church. It’s interior can best be described as a hybrid of a mall and airport terminal. I was immediately overwhelmed by the grandiosity of the entryway and walkways. Maybe grandiose isn’t the word. How about unabashedly commercialized? Either way, the effect disposes of any notion of a place of worship in favor of a fun place to hang out with like-minded people.

I’ve read the story in the Bible about Jesus throwing out the moneychangers in the temple courtyard, but apparently ResLife never got to that chapter. Around every corner, they’re selling something, either at one of many coffee shops or a bookstore to rival any Waldenbooks.

Seriously, I felt exactly as I do when walking through an airport terminal. They even have the same kind of signs hanging from the ceiling indicating where certain things are located so you don’t get lost. It’s a good thing too, because I may not have otherwise located the massive auditorium.

Did I mention the five thousand wide-screen plasma TVs they had all over the place? And when I say all over the place, I mean all over the place. I think they’re adopting a policy of not leaving any wall-stud bare of a high def TV. Each and every one was turned on and showing… showing… hell, I don’t know. But I imagine that whatever it is must justify the spending of tens of thousands of parishner’s hard-earned dollars. Ol’ Satan must be shaking in his spiky boots at the lengths these people will go to in order to flex their collective biceps in his direction.

The Game Hall

Luckily, if you get lost in baggage claim and don’t make it to the worship service to flail your arms around, there’s another section of the building I’ll just call the game hall. In itself, it’s larger than most churches I’ve been to and houses at least fifteen awesome pool tables. And not second-hand scratched up tables either. These were very nice and obviously expensive billiards tables. While I’m no good at playing pool, I occasionally go to a local pool hall and shoot some nine ball with friends. This church far outdoes my local pool hall in number and classiness of pool tables. And it appears to be free and I’m guessing there’s no smoking allowed. I think I may have found myself a new place to shoot pool. The only thing missing is a bar…

Or maybe not; could that be? Yes, apparently they also have a bar (of sorts) within this massive game hall. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’re gonna serve any alcohol besides maybe a little communion wine. Next time, I’m totally ordering a Blood-of-the-Savior Smoothie. I hear it comes with a tall rusty nail right in the glass!

Besides the approximate six hundred plasma TVs in the game hall alone, there were a few huge projection screens in the far corner of the game hall. Several rows of chairs were laid out in the hopes that the pool-playing youth would stop long enough to watch the pastor ask for more money before returning to their game of eight-ball.

My Church can Beat up Your Church

I managed to follow the river of righteousness to the main worship hall. This room was just as I expected: Stadium seating but with the sanctity of pews; huge enormo-screen monitors above the podium; a section for the band and an elevated stairset for the choir. Initially I found myself up on the balcony, but I couldn’t stand being in the nosebleed section so I moved to the floor level about ten rows back. I wanted an up-close view of the action.

And video cameras, oh my! To the right side of the stage was a man operating a thirty foot contraption with an attached camera that allowed for those fancy flyby zoom shots on film. I think I watched that guy more than the actual service, sadistically waiting for him to slip and skim across the heads of the first ten rows of Christians. He never stopped moving!

The left side of the stage had a shorter camera arm that zoomed in and out on the band, giving you those close-up shots of the musicians that make you feel like you’re watching Jay Leno during a commercial break. During the worship service, there were several other cameramen walking through the aisles getting nice up-close shots of people at their most holy. All that was missing was a program that automatically photoshops a glowing aura around the heads of the faithful. You’d think that kind of thing would show up naturally on film, but I didn’t see any. Must be the cameras.

Understanding Ted Haggard’s Sin

The monitors all had a professionally designed graphical countdown to worship. When the clock struck zero, the band and choir were all in place and in walked the worship leader. All cameras focussed in on this guy, who had more charisma, and let’s face it, studliness, than any pop star I’ve seen. With his wavy blond hair and rugged five o’clock shadow (at 9:30 AM) and dashing, caring smile, I now understand the fall of Ted Haggard. If the founder of New Life Church had this guy leading worship, I could totally understand how he’d feel the need to experiment. Hell, I’m straight but now I think I’m gay for this guy. At least I know Ted Haggard has found a cure for homosexuality, in case I ever feel the need to bat for the other team for a while.

A typical song-singing service ensued for the next twenty minutes. This had the expected it’s-great-to-be-loved feeling – the only difference being the greater amount of people swaying around and waving their arms about. I watched with eager anticipation, but never saw anyone go nuts and start spewing off gibberish or speaking in tongues. Pity.

I couldn’t bear the thought of singing something I didn’t believe and observed the phenomenon instead. I wondered if people really considered the words they were actually singing. All that Jesusy stuff just seems so far fetched and archaic that I found it amusing. And as much as I willed it, the long arm of the camera on stage right would come straight towards the congregation, only to swoop dramatically upwards just before knocking a few out cold. Damn! So close that time!

Sieg Heil

After the singing came to an end with a forced feeling of guilt and redemption, a pastor came on stage with a large box full of prayer requests and fasting requests (fasting requests? oooook?). He rambled on for a moment about the importance of everyone praying to God regarding the contents of that box. He was going to have the congregation all pray towards the pile of requests, assuming God already knew each one of them individually. But really, if all it takes is a “God, help all those that wrote shit down,” and not individual prayers, can’t we just go ahead and get it all over with “God, help everybody everywhere” and be done with it?

And here’s where I had my first brief moment of horror inside a church. The pastor said “Now stretch out your hands towards these requests and pray with me.” I kid you not – Everyone in the congregation immediately did the Heil Hitler sign with outstretched arm, palm down. It caught me entirely off guard. At first I chuckled inside but then had a moment of absolute horror as I imagined what kind of influence these people were under, and that I was in the minority. That momentary fear faded into an uneasiness, realizing that it wasn’t quite the same, but still. It. Freaked. Me. Out.

With the knowledge that most of these people would welcome and encourage anything that they thought hinted at Armageddon, I think my initial fear was more justified. Jesus Camp, anybody?

The Ten Thousand TV Drive

The first part of the sermon was a call for alms. A good five minutes were spent on the benefits of giving to the church. Plastic buckets were then handed through each of the aisles so we could all empty our pockets (which I fervently passed on).

I could hardly contain my disdain at the audacity of this preacher to get up and ask for more money. Are you kidding me? The amount you guys spent on plasma TVs alone could feed an entire third world country for a decade. The freakin church itself was big enough to house a third world country of its own.

This place was nothing more than a glorified social club with a crackpot worldview, perpetuating an arcane religion and misleading hundreds for its own glorification. If it sold itself as a social club, I’d have no problem with people giving their own money to aid in its plasma TV drive. But it doesn’t. It guilts people into giving their hard earned money for its own benefit, all the while preaching the benefits of helping others. How contemptible.

Perpetuating Superstition

The stage then went dark as they moved things and brought out a stand for the pastor. During this time, the jumbotrons showed a couple thirty second announcements of upcoming events. It was a cute girl who must have aspirations of being a news anchor, but it ensured that there was not a dull moment in the service. They must think we have the attention span of a bumblebee.

The pastor then went on with his preaching. Summed up, it hit on the following points:

  • Your body is holy
  • Treat your body with respect in life and in death
  • Burial is the way to go out. Cremation is for pagans and should stay that way.
  • Tattoos are bad
  • Cremation is really bad and Christians shouldn’t do it. I mean, God can still resurrect you, but you gotta make it easy on him. Don’t cremate yourself.
  • Homosexuality is bad
  • Pagans are bad
  • Did I mention cremation yet? Because it’s bad. In fact, the polls show that more and more people are getting cremated, and this is just evidence that they are leaving Christianity and becoming pagans.
  • I’m hoping the rapture is right around the corner, but you shouldn’t live like that. prepare yourself to die rather than be raptured
  • And by the way, if you come back tonight at five o’clock, I’ll give you my top ten reasons why cremation is bad

This guy seriously went on and on about the evils of cremation, I couldn’t believe my ears. I came here for the speaking in tongues and all I got was a guilty feeling for wanting to donate my organs on death and have my body turned to ash. His reasoning for the anti-cremation rant was a tendancy towards superstition; that although God can still resurrect a cremated body, you should have yourself buried to show that you believe you’ll be resurrected. I’d say it’s laughable if it wasn’t such a blatant disregard for the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation.

And boy did he mention pagans a lot. I didn’t know paganism was such a prevalent force these days. You’d think he’d focus on more dangerous religions, like fundamental Muslims or *cough* evangelical Christians.

Edit: Nothing was mentioned in the sermon about organ donation. That was on my mind because last night I just renewed my license and organ donation registration.

I assume since they’re against the destruction caused by cremation, that they would feel equally as queasy about donating parts of said body. It seemed implied from the sermon that any destruction of the body God gave you is heretical. It’s sad to think that such a viewpoint is probably held by those four thousand or so people in attendance.

Life Lessons

Resurrection Life Church, or as they like to call it, ResLife, is the first evangelical and charismatic church I’ve visited, so maybe it’s just as absurd as all the others.

It lies just a few miles away from Grandville’s other megachurch: Rob Bell’s Mars Hill. I now have a much greater appreciation for the direction that Rob Bell is taking his church. Mars Hill is a very low-profile megachurch that is much more liberal in its beliefs. More importantly, they are honest and virtuous in what they do with their money and have some very specific ministries that are supported, whose goals are to help people while here on earth, rather than trying to convert them through pressure.

I’m definitely going back to this church. It’s like a freakin circus in there, and I have to bring a few of my friends so we can all laugh. Or cry.

  1. Tony McCargar
    January 6, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    If you could mass mail this observation to all “church growth”model churches in the US it would be great. You can see it and some who hold to “reformed-orthodox” views see it, but apparantly they cannot. When the church looks like the world, what do we need the church for? Saying that however, does not remove the fact that Our God is sovereign over all things, including reslife church. Because He allows this to continue does not mean He approves. Israel was allowed to mix their worship of Jehovah with the worship of Baal and other local cults…..for awhile. Yet with all that I know no one who is 100% pure in their theology simply because we are finite and He in infinite. But what we can know about Him is clearly shown in the scriptures if we would but read it. Allowing the scriptures to form our theology and not the other way around. Check out for an abundance of inquiry.

  2. January 7, 2008 at 3:32 am

    I’m very happy to read your article on resurrection life church it’s great to know the evangelical, charismatic megachurch in Grandville, Michigan. I’m surprised by the data which you have produced with cell phone and thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Judi
    January 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    It seems as if the notion that this a “friendly” atheist site has just been overthrown with this nasty, critical view of this church. I appreciate honest, fair criticism, but calling people freaks and implying that they are in a trance because they extend their hands in prayer is taking things a bit far don’t you think? It is not a church that would necessary represent my views, but where is the tolerant, questioning viewpoint that does not label people we don’t understand in negative terms?

  4. Richard
    January 7, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Nah, I go with reasonably friendly. Sounded like most observations were fair, and I read humour, not nastiness.

    “This place was nothing more than a glorified social club” I can’t really comment on New Res… but this is far too true of far too many churches. It keeps a social cohort happy while doing nothing to actually impact society for the better.

    (that’s what church claims to be, after all)

  5. January 9, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    I love reading your perspective. You do such a great job helping me to see through the eyes of an athiest! Thank you! Thank you! πŸ˜‰

  6. doubtingthomas426
    January 13, 2008 at 10:30 am

    nogodsallowed, I just discovered your site and I’m gald I did. Man, you are braver than I. I haven’t had the stomach to visit a church for a very long time. I won’t go into my story here (if you are interested, you can visit my site I think you’ll find it right up your alley). Anyway, keep up the good work, brother. I’ll keep checking back. I’ve added your site to my blogroll hope this is cool.

  7. Christian
    January 15, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    This is actually my home church. I really appreciated all your thoughts. It was good hearing your perspective.

  8. Daniel
    January 16, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Reslife is actually my home church too, and i appriciate your visit and perspective. Although one thought…

    you said “Either way, the effect disposes of any notion of a place of worship in favor of a fun place to hang out with like-minded people.”

    Well in one aspect, thats what a church is. Its a place where yes we come to worship, but we also come to see each other. To get involved in each others lives. We come to connect, and help each other out.

  9. Daniel
    January 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Oh, and i know we have a ton of TV’s, but there are not “Approximately” 600 in our “game room”

    Found that kinda funny.

  10. Erica
    January 17, 2008 at 12:29 am

    This is my home church and I must say I’m sorry you feel the way you do. The “game room” as you call it is a sanctuary set up specifically for high schoolers on Sundays and Wednesdays, and for college age students on Thursdays… we call it the Ground Floor. I hope you will continue coming, and I pray that God will open your eyes to the truth!

  11. eric lambert
    January 17, 2008 at 1:49 am

    listen BUB i can hardly wait ta meet u in person. the name is ERIC THOMAS LAMBERT and heck yes i’m a freak, if u wanna dub me with that name, I’m a JESUS FREAK, and JESUS REINS at Rez Life my home church also. just out of curiosity wrer u planning on getting cremated, cuz you took a pretty big offense to that there BUB. i work @ meijer on 44th & ivanrest, usually between 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. . i’m a cashier there and. if u come thru my line i’ll probably tell u all about how rez life helped me get to know Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit, on a more intimate level. i’ve got to go now, but i’ll be praying for you hard core man, that God All Mighty would reach out and work a miracle in your life like something HE did for me. may God bless your life something awesome. later i’m out p.s. God is supposed to be capitalized thank you

  12. eric lambert
    January 17, 2008 at 1:59 am

    those photos of the rocks are from my home town munising michigan’s pictured rocks, i used to go jet-skiing in that exact area. thats pretty neat hey

  13. I Heart ResLife
    January 18, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Nice article, but I’d have to disagree with you on the purpose of their bookstore and cafe. In the Bible, God commands that we pay the first 10% of our earnings back to Him as a tithe. Many people do not do this, so churches, like ResLife, have had to come up with other ways to fund their ministries. ResLife is a non-profit organization. I look at things like the bookstore and cafe as opportunities to buy something I might normally buy elsewhere, except through the church, the “profit” goes back into the ministry.

    You mentioned that you’ll be going again to see more of this church. Be sure to come on the second Sunday of the month. That’s when ResLife tends to communicate how much they gave to missions the previous month. I bet it’s more than Mars Hill. πŸ˜‰ We’re not competing against each other, but please get all the facts before you go minimizing the support ResLife offers.

    And in regards to giving to the poor or helping others financially. I once read a quote from another pastor responding to a question of why his church spent so much money on a bigger building instead of giving it to the poor or some other worthy cause. His response was that by building a larger building, the church would have the opportunity to minister to more people that would then be equipped to go out and minister the gospel to even more people still. Even though giving to the poor is great, imagine the increased benefit a “cause and effect” of others equipping others to do good has?

    Along those same lines is why the cameras are in the auditorium. They tape the message so that it can be broadcast around the world. That takes money to do. So even though the physical building is nice, and cost money, it pales in comparison to the amount of money ResLife uses to minister the gospel to others through various ministries, outreaches, etc.

    And did you ever think that maybe some of those 600 flat screen TVs were either donated, or paid for by a member of the church or local business owner?

    Thanks for writing the article. Maybe I’ll see you at ResLife.

  14. Ani
    January 21, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    I have often wondered what my home church looks like to someone outside “the church” and now I know. I would have to disagree with your views on how ResLife views missions/charitable giving. Myself along with hundreds of other people are/have been supported by ResLife on the mission field for years. I have friends who through ResLife are able to reach hundreds of people not just with the message of Jesus Christ but also with daily necessities, like pure drinking water, food and clothes. I can see where it may appear to be a huge airport terminal and the maze of things offered can be overwhelming so I’ll give you that. I also see the fruit of so many hundreds of people who’s lives have been changed through this ministry. Lives changed, families reconciled, drug and alcohol addictions overcome, etc. I’m sure that if you were to look into the heart of what ResLife stands for, you would see a ministry that is dedicated to reaching out to those in need. And not just in foreign countries, there are programs that focus on Grand Rapids itself, bringing food to the hungry and helping kids with school supplies. Am I maybe a little biased in my opinions? maybe, but then I am a life that has been greatly affected by this church. To me, it is my extended family – so many people have banded together with me and my family in times of trouble and hardship. They have been there for us, prayed with us and stuck through until things got better. That is not something you find every day just anywhere!

  15. nogodsallowed
    January 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, “I Heart ResLife”, and “Ani”. I hadn’t considered donations of electronics and toys in my original critique. You make a good point. I do hope that the church is very interested in helping people in the world today rather than trying to convert them for some perceived future life.

    From my personal experience, most churches that I’ve been to are so caught up in trying to “save” people from their interpretation of hell, that they forget there are people with much more basic and outstanding needs. Back when I was a Christian, our church’s ministry only involved serving and converting other Christians, rather than the need of the entire community. I find that kind of help very childish and self-serving. Which is why I may assume too much when it comes to the donations of other churches. What is ResLife’s point of view on this? They still seem to me like a hellfire and brimstone preaching church that would rather convert you before helping you. Am I off-base?

    I don’t argue that people’s lives have been greatly affected by ResLife. People can claim exactly the same help from other religious organizations (i.e. Scientology or Hamas), so I see nothing unique in the spirit of giving at your church. You’ll have to understand that I care nothing for your alleged gods, be it Jesus or Yahweh. I am more interested in how their purported followers act towards humanity. I still hold to my critique of the whole church being a location for a social club with arcane beliefs, but it is nice to hear that my assumptions about money usage and serving humanity are at least somewhat farfetched.

  16. nogodsallowed
    January 21, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    And Eric Lamert, you’ll have to excuse me for declining your invite to Meijer. I’m usually against meeting strange people from the internet who yell in all capital letters.

    I’m glad your life is better, but I’m sure there are a number of other sociological explanations that render your three gods theorum obsolete. I’ve participated in my fair share of superstitious story telling, so a one-on-one won’t be necessary.

    Why yes, I am planning to get cremated. It wasn’t that I was offended at the topic of that Sunday. I’m sure the church holds a number of other baseless and irrational beliefs. Rather, my frustration lies in the fact that it *was* the topic for that Sunday. Out of all the thousands of people coming to church that day, the best they could offer was some superstitious beliefs on cremation vs. burial? It was time wasted on everyone there, and may have a more permanent damage in relation to organ donation (my assumption).

    I don’t think you’re praying hard enough for me. Your god hasn’t yet reached out and performed any miracles. Although, on second thought, my car battery died yesterday, but I haven’t attributed it to Yahweh. Perhaps it was the cold? Or Allah? Xenu?

  17. Brian
    January 22, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Hey, I really appreciate your thoughts on this, you come across as very intelligent, if a bit cynical, ;).

    I don’t care so much whether you like Resurrection Life Church or not, but my question to someone so against, (And may I assume, bitter toward?), God, is: “Are you happy?”.

    Because I would not be a follower of Jesus if I didn’t find it to be extraordinarily fulfilling, or at the very least, more satisfying than anything I’ve ever experienced.

    My guess would be, that you find joy academic and would rather be right than be one who gets sucked into the hype. I know that was me for a time. The problem becomes, that’s a pretty dark existence. Depression’s not very fun, and purposelessness often leads there quickly.

    So I finally wondered, “What if I accepted a God whose existence I couldn’t prove, and a love I couldn’t explain, would I then find meaning and purpose for my life?”

    And it worked.

    So if you’re right, and we just blink out of existence when we die, then at least I had a reason for living that being a product of random chance does not afford, but if you’re wrong, and we were all put here for a reason, then may the God you deny have mercy on your soul.

  18. nogodsallowed
    January 23, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Brian, thanks for the comment. Let me say first that yes, I am happy! I am able to find plenty of meaning in life without a belief in gods. That’s a common misconception about atheists that I’d like to get rid of first and foremost. We’re not “searching” for your god to find fulfillment in any way. Our lives are what we make of it, and I find plenty of happiness in friends and family amongst many other activities. To say that an unbeliever is not happy because they don’t know your god is to assume waaaaaay too much.

    Now, if I come off sounding bitter and angry towards religious issues, that’s because I often am πŸ™‚ I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church with many of the same core beliefs as ResLife, and there’s a strong repulsion in me for religion now, especially the kind that I came from. Nothing bad ever happened to me during that time. Rather, it has been a more spiritual and intellectual journey seeking the truth. It’s mostly that I was able to crawl out from the darkness of religion and now I’m able to see the absurdities contained within all religions. And that often makes me a bit angry and cynical.

    So there’s that, plus the fact that this blog is often an outlet for me towards religious issues. I try to avoid bugging my friends or family too much and instead find an outlet here. That being the case, I often only write here when something pisses me off. Hence, I could see how this might make you think I’m just a bitter, angry person in general. I’m really only like that towards religion. In most other topics, I’m full of sunshine, rainbows, and puppies!

    ps – I’m bitter towards God the same way that you’re bitter at the tooth fairy for not paying out anymore (hint – I believe neither exist, so it’s hard to be angry at empty space)

  19. ragamuffin11
    January 26, 2008 at 3:29 am

    thank you for visiting somewhere before you write something like this! there are too many voices out there talking about stuff they never experienced but heard from someone.

    i actually used to work in the ground floor(game room) and share many of your concerns, thus why i used too. πŸ™‚ but when i read that this visit was inspired by Hemant Metha’s book, i sold my soul on eBay(great book!) i thought i would read something much different than what i did read. i was excited because i have been really trying to figure out what i believe a church is and should be. and Mr. Mehta really helped me. he helped me because i felt i better understood an atheists view. because anyone honestly searching for God and the ways of Christ can see threw their bullshit(im kind of bitter too). so i guess i would love to see you revisit the church and blog about the positives(i promise there are some), the negatives, the ok things and what action could be taken. the church wont change because we see their faults but if given something tangible they might. and if they don’t thats between them and God.

    again thank you and sorry for the idiots that just want to tell you your matter religious differences we both want to see justice prevail for all. some forget that.

    much love!!!

  20. jeff
    January 29, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    just want to make you article a little more acurate the church actually has 23 plasma screens and the game hall which we at rez call the ground floor has 24 tv’s and as far as helpin people now, Every sunday I watch numerous belivers and non belivers pick up as much food as thier vehicles can carry away to thier needy families, and not to mention the countless missions to New Orleans to help rebuild I could keep going but this reply would get too big. Well Im glad to hear you’ll return to rez and Ill be prayin for you God Bless!

  21. wisdomstalker
    February 1, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I think you miss the point, Jeff. It really isn’t about the exact number of TVs that Res has. (What happened to your sense of humor, anyway?) It’s about the true heart (motivation) of Resurrection Life Church and how financial resources are used (and of course, how Res appears to an atheist) Nogodsallowed, I was a member of Resurrection Life Church for years and I have to say that your thoughts about Res are both intelligent and humorouse and are no doubt a more accurate perception of reality than the thoughts of the people who are regularly attending there. I was also on staff at Res for a few years so I got to see more of the inner workings and the heart of the leadership than most people do. It is true that the mission and vision of Res Life is geared first toward getting as many people as possible to respond to the weekly altar calls and getting a larger and larger number of people (with their money) into the sanctuary each week rather than serving people with their practical and emotional needs. There is a certain amount of arrogance about Res and it’s leadership – that they have a special revelation (ironically enough, the same gnosticism that Duane talked about in his anti-cremation, no tattoos, skip the blood sports sermon. Hmmmm… I wonder if that blood sports thing includes movies? If it does, no more Rambo or Gladiator for the pastors!) This anti-cremation thing has absolutely no scriptural basis and is one of the most ridiculous sermon topics I can imagine. I mean, this is how you are countercultural? You don’t get tattoos, avoid watching lions eat Christians and make sure no one cremates your body when you die? Now, all you Res Lifer’s, please don’t freak out on me. I know there are some good people at Res. I know Res ocassionally does some good things for people. In the end, that simply wasn’t enough for me. I haven’t lost my faith in God (though I have a lot of questions for Him about some churches and why lightening bolts don’t come down from the sky), but I did realize finally that it was time for me to move on. I have found another church with a more balanced teaching and a real love for people (even those who might not choose to become a Christian); one that demonstrates their heart for the people in their community and around the world, not just spiritually, but in very practical ways. They even let you think for yourself and have your own opinions about things like tattoos, Rambo and even cremation. Amazing, but true.

  22. Alix
    February 5, 2008 at 12:37 am

    I’ll have to agree that Res Life’s first goal is to reach out to others. But that’s what we Christians are supposed to do. When we accept the Lord as our Savior and we get baptized in the Holly Spirit, we become disciples of Jesus. And we are supposed to reach out to others who don’t know about Him. Now we live in a material world. Everything costs money and in order to reach out to people, yes the church needs to raise money for that purpose. But they also do so much community work around the world it’s amazing. Now as for cremation and tattoos, here’s some scriptures to think about. 1 cor 6:19, 1 cor. 15:42-45, amos 2:1, acts 2:40, and 1 cor 15:57. You may not read the Bible, nor believe its the word of God and that’s your choice. God gave us that along with everything else. You said that you used to be a believer. I can’t help but wonder why you aren’t anymore. Everyday I look around and see what God has done for me. You may not like my church, you may not like their teachings, and you know what that’s fine. But alls they’re doing is trying to reach you and show you the truth. The Bible is the truth and it can’t get any plainer then that.

  23. wisdomstalker
    February 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Alix, Re: “all they’re doing is trying to reach you and show you the truth.” Do you think everything a pastor says at Res is always the truth? Do you ever disgree with something you hear? Do you ever question anything? I hope you will say you do, because you have been given you your mind for a purpose (you and I would say our minds and free will are a gift from God) And we all know a mind is a terrible thing to waste. πŸ™‚ I don’t mean this in any way rudely, and I am not making any assumptions about your intelligence. For all I know you are mensa material. My questions are sincerely meant. I’m just curious where you are coming from.

  24. star
    February 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    i pity all you pity who don’t know the glory of FGod. i go to that curch and it never used to be like that. and we do give to all sorts of ministries. and first of, shame on u. second off, the cameras are there so that people who cant come to church can see it on tv. and the tvs, i know are little much ,but u never know. the pastor just wanted ot be hospitable to people. and there are people speaking in tongues, i guess u just couldn’t understand because u were ranting on in ur brain…and were afraid we’d all turn on u. all people in that church are godly people and would very well welcome u into their hearts. i seriously think this article is a slap inthe face. and another thing! the “pool hall/ game room is called the Ground Floor. and it’s the teen room. Before the service starts in their, the ppol tabs are for enjoyment and it’s a place to chill out. BUt when service actually starts, worship is happening, and god just flows through the room. take the fricken blinders off of your eyes! if u’d actually read the bible and listened to some good points made…or actually talked to some of the people at the church, i think you’d be sorry for what u worte. sure i’m all about sharing ur opinion, but thanx for making us feel like a pritican order dictatorship! we’re not! goodness, i wana meet u just so i can argue. i’d gady take u around and tell u the truth about ht echurch, let u meet the people…i pity u for not knowing jesus like i do. i talk to him everyday. and if ur considering what i worte like u were surveyiing the church, u have a big problem with judging people ok?! so there.

  25. star
    February 7, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    and, more, sorry for all the typos, i was really angry when writing this

  26. wisdomstalker
    February 9, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Wow! Way to show the love of God. You make me so proud to say you are a brother or sister in Christ. (please detect the sarcasm here.) You might want to consider taking some anger management classes. Or maybe you can go up to the altar next healing Sunday at Res and get healed from whatever emotional wounds you have suffered in your life that make you lash out so strongly at people who have different thoughts than you do. Yeah, you do owe nogodsallowed an apology. But there’s a lot more you should be apologizing for than your typos. It’s responses like yours that give Christians a bad reputation. Way to totally not represent Jesus!

  27. Christian
    February 9, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I whole-heartedly agree that many Christians give Christ a bad name. But one thing people don’t seem to remember is that there is only one requirement for being a Christian: you must be a sinner. If you aren’t a sinner, you can’t be a Christian because Jesus only came to save sinners. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we are better than anyone else, more perfect or loving or giving. It may seem sad, but it’s true. Now, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we need to strive to love each other but we will never get it perfectly right. We can’t argue or persuade anyone into the Kingdom of God. Maybe we can manipulate their emotions into “making a decision for Christ” but only the power of God can change someone. There is no reason to get angry at people who hate Jesus, or more commonly, don’t believe in Him. It is only by His grace that we are saved and we need to remember that. We are not better or smarter because we “chose” Christ. On the contrary! It is only because of God’s mercy that we are saved and if we get arrogant about our salvation, we are missing a very important point. We aren’t saved today because of anything we’ve done, we are only saved because of God’s great love. Please don’t forget that! It is not our job to convert people, that is God’s job. It is our job to love people. This is obviously off topic from the Res post, but I just wanted to address some of the comments on this blog.

  28. wisdomstalker
    February 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    So, no gods, did you ever go back for a second visit? Will we hear anyting else, or is your experiment complete?

  29. nogodsallowed
    February 21, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I still plan on going back to ResLife when time allows. I first plan to visit Fountain Street Church. I’ve also heard of a church in mid-northern Michigan that practices “vomiting in the spirit” which I’d just love to learn more about, but my contact still hasn’t been able to provide an address. More to come…

  30. NicoleS
    February 24, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I have attended ResLife once or twice in the past, and attended TriUnity Christian school which is partially housed in ResLife. I have always found it to be creepy. What’s better proof of the delusion these people are suffering from is not your article, but all of their responses to your article. They try so hard to justify there plasma tvs and cafa etc. that it only furthers my belief that they are indeed delusional. I once told a friend of mine who attends ResLife that she was delusional and she said” I’m not delusional, I just believe what I want to believe.” Is that not delusion?

  31. wisdomstalker
    February 29, 2008 at 12:53 am

    “Vomiting in the Spirit?” Where do you hear about things like that anyway? I know there’s a lot of crazy things out there in this wonderful world of ours, but that’s a new one for me. I googled it and discovered that it’s been out there for a while, though. Please tell me that the church up north where you have heard it is happening is not a Res Life Affiliate… That would be just too embarassing.

  32. nogodsallowed
    February 29, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Yea, the “vomiting in the spirit” form of worship was a new one to me too. I hardly believed it myself until googling it.

    I haven’t yet been to the church mostly because the friend who told me about it can’t get ahold of his friend who had gone to it originally.

    And I doubt it has any relationship to ResLife, besides the whole body-of-Christ thing. If I can ever track it down, I’m totally going. Care to come along? πŸ™‚ I hear they provide buckets.

  33. wisdomstalker
    February 29, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Well, thanks for the invite… I guess. But I don’t think it’s something I really care to see for myself. And what if they expect you to participate? πŸ™‚ That is just too disgusting. Not to mention, weird. I shall however wish you good fortune on your quest since it seems to be something you are looking forward to with a great deal of anticipation. I can only hope they will not disappoint you (as Res apparently did with the whole speaking in tongues thing.) I shall rely on your most excellent reporting skills to illuminate me on whatever transpires.

  34. cynthia dufty
    March 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    If you are attracted to vomiting; there is a lot of vomiting done in Satanic cults. Do you realize you are dabbling in Satan’s favorite drug. Open your eyes fully, repent and go back to the God that will fill your emptiness. I pray to the One that Overcomes. I ask in Jesus’ Name to deliver you from evil. You are precious in His sight. Stop your sillyness. What are you waiting for – a strike you dead – kind of experience.

  35. Kevin
    April 1, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Hello! We (at Res Life) appreciate the advertisement and publicity you’ve given our church! While I don’t necessarily agree with what you said or your sarcastic tone, I do respect your views. I would have much more respect though for someone who came to our church and was actually connected, then wrote a review of it. It’s almost like me going to your place of employment and watching you for a couple hours work, then writing a review. It wouldn’t be fair. May God bless you today and always!

  36. Jen
    May 22, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I appreciate your criticism of the church and your willingness to check it out! However, I would like you to consider this: The “church” is not a building. The church is the people. You are right in saying that you did not find God in going to RLC. He doesn’t live there. He lives in the people. Your fundamental error in your analysis of your visit to this church is that you didn’t interact with the people. All of your observations were actually criticisms of the short-comings of the decisions that people make when building a church building or holding a worship service, which does not disprove that there is a God.

    The way that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is God and that He is alive and real is through people, not from how great the building looks or the number of TVs. I have visited RLC Grandville and attended their conferences, but I have also been to the poorest of the poor in many nations around the world and many cultures from Asia to Africa. The same heart and love of God pour from the hearts of the richest to the poorest across all socio- economic lines and languages around the world for those who have put their heart and faith in Jesus Christ. I have met, encountered, and shared in experiences with God with those who are as far from me physically, socially, and economically as you can get and because of our common love of Jesus Christ, we had an immediate love for each other and understanding that cannot be understood in human terms. This was true when neither of us could understand a word to each other and there was no interpreter in every culture I have experienced. And NONE of those people had fancy TVs or buildings, but they had the same heart as the people I know at RLC. Again, I say to you, that the church is not a building. It is a people. I challenge you to go to back to Reslife and interact with the people. If you really want to get at the core what those “hitler-esk” people are thinking, interact with them. And try to remember, being a Christ follower does not make one perfect, but it does make one in the pursuit of it.

  37. Locke
    June 7, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    First off nogodsallowed and wisdomstalker, i love and share your views on these mega churches. To most of the rest of you, im thoroughly disturbed by your lack of compassion. Nogods shared his observations (right or wrong we dont have the right to judge him) and the first few responses listened and responded with thought and compassion and give me hope for future of the church, however most of you have responded with hysteria and virulence. i cant help but see your views as vitriolic. To all of of you im sorry. You are abundantly disheartening. Its hard to see the embodiment of jesus’s greatest commandment in the twelfth chapter of mark (verse 30&31 to those of you who are not familiar with it).

    Nogodsallowed and Wisdomstalker keep this up, I hope to hear more from you.

  38. June 24, 2008 at 2:32 am

    nogodsallowed, have you been back to res yet? Just wanted to meet you, but I have no clue what you look like?

  39. Charles
    November 5, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    First off, ask that pastor how he got his job…Then ask who the founder of the church was and how he got “removed”??? The corporation that controls this church now, took it over while the founder was on vacation, and turned it into this crap. Before you go mouthing off about churches, pagan…Get the history of them and post it…This church used to be legit and good, now it isn’t…Get it?

  40. Jerret
    January 13, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Hey bro. I love this. I think every pastor should read this with his leadership staff. You have diagnosed a ton of symptoms to a much larger problem. Perspective. Anyway, though I disagree I can appreciate this blog for what it is, an honest assessment from a real person’s perspective.

    Just one more thing and it’s serious…

    Do not go to the “vomiting” church. That is a serious problem. You may be an Atheist, but that can be a dangerous environment with some pretty jacked up implications. That is not a Christ-Following church. Seriously don’t go.

  41. ...
    February 13, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Wow… I was searching for information on Res-life. A friend of mine has recently visited there and I have always heard bad things about the church and now I am starting to see why… Thank-you so much for your blog, I appreciate your honesty and I agree with you whole-heartedly as a Christian I might add, that the way this church spends their money is ridiculous! I do not care how much money they have spent on giving to others! Think about how much more they could have given instead of building a church that costs millions of dollars! It disgusts me. Jesus roamed this earth poor, hungry and rejected! He does not call us to use money to further our entertainment and comfort! Thank the Lord He is able to use Res-life to bring people to Him, I know this happens there, however, I do not believe it is Gods will for a church to use there funds in this manner. It is truly grotesque!

  42. sally
    February 21, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Yes there are many churches that may be just for profit. Judging them won’t do us any good. People seek what they want and will decide for themselves. If you want to check out a good worship service go to St John Viany (sp) on Clyde park just N of 44th in Wyoming Mi. Ft. Michael Alber ( espec 11:30 mass) always speaks from the heart to the heart about life and what we are here for. He doesn’t ask for $ the bldg is already paid for & its not his. That is one advantage of the catholic church. Even though Rome may profit, this preist has a pure motive & cares about you and your heart. Check it out , I dare you & hay bring a real camera.
    Sally Wayland MI

  43. abalaba ding dong no speaka da ching chong
    March 18, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Incredible, the lens you used to super analyze this haven for faith shames me to have failed you as a Christian. You need to be more accepting of the lord’s path for you. If you let the power of the lord guide you then the interpreter at Res can tell everyone that gathers around you what you’re saying. It’s like being the parent of a babbling baby, the words make sense after hearing them. The only difference is that babies get to point at what they want, have daily or routine rituals that guide the parents and their mimicking abilities are undeveloped. I hope you can embrace the word of god, be blessed.

  44. george
    May 21, 2009 at 9:15 am

    I went to Res for over a year, you are just a another face. Your information gets lost. People do not get back to you when they say they will. But what really bothers me is that the pastor(s) all live in very large homes. Just seems to me that the “excess” has better uses, especially when it comes from others tithes.

  45. Jim
    December 6, 2009 at 9:27 am

    I attend rez every week. I talked to a member I met and one of them told me its so cool because rez makes many of their staff members men and women legal pastors on paper so that they get a 40 percent tax deduction on all their housing. I thought wow that’s a great idea, That means if you make 100k a year 40k of it never get’s taxed. I am working with the kids ministry and I am talking to them now about possibly joining their staff at one of their churches in the next couple years.

  46. Patrick
    February 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I worked at rez for a month, i barely left with my soul intact. with the state of the michigan economy, they beat their members to give and give to pay the mortgage. they are so far into debt is crazy.

    While the people in Grand Rapids struggle to pay their bills, ResLIfe continue to pay enormous salaries.

    I love Jesus, I try to love people, but I Rez Life is religious shrine of modernism. A massive monument of people exchanging religious goods and services.

    I am sorry you had to see this. This isn’t who Jesus is or what he was about. This place is so elite and clean, I don’t think Jesus himself would be welcome there.

  47. Patrick
    February 1, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Reading the responses from res life goers is making me ill.

  48. tlehnen
    January 15, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I am sorry you feel the need to be a hater about reslife if the tv offend you take them out of my account the pooltables we called them bait for the youth myself and thousands of others members here at rezlife are vary proud of gods church and my pastor and his wife I could not repay him for all I have learn I pray for you and the doors are always open please come back give god another try he died for you

  49. Jessica
    May 9, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Hey, if you’re still interested in going to Fountain Street church, its address is:
    24 Fountain St. NE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
    I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s pretty freaky.

  50. robin
    January 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I’d have to say they are brainwashing people this church is wacky

  51. Mark Doorlag
    April 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Its good to wake up this side of the curtain while we have time to repent. Jesus cleaned the temple twice. These man placed leaders are not those that Jesus gave. Man made religion creates self centered sheep that are without eyesight. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. The wheat and tares have been allowed to grow together. The Anti-Christ Spirit is alive and well in this counterfiet system. Not the correct wineskin. Jesus gives those that are to lead His Church as mentione in Ephesians 4. There is no mention in the New Testamant Church about creating businesses, build buildings. Paul continued tentmaking, he needed funds when he was in prison or he would have starved to death. Its pure moneychanging. When Jesu cleaned the Temple the miracles immediately happened and the Professional became indignant. This pattern of Church lines up with the tyranny of the King James era that led to America being born. It lends to worship of men. When Jesu was doing the His Fathers business crowds would form. He didn’t run to the mall and buy his buckle jeans and build a large building to serve. He snuck away because it wasn’t about Him. In Acts 8 the New Testament Church was scattered. The Apostles stayed in Jerusalem and the Believers went forth without their Leaders and did the Works of Jesus. Pretty Amazing! As You can tell I’m pretty much anti-professional. Jesus commended the Church of Ephesus in Revelation for not tolarating the Nicolaitans and He went on to mention that He actually Hated what they did. The work of the Nicolaitans was to create a liety and conquer them. Thats the system we have today. Just something to think about!

  52. Paula
    September 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I suggest that you “check out” the Resurrection Life Church in Ionia, Michigan. While it is not as large and sickeningly commercialized as the the Grandville location, (yet), it is an offshoot of the same “Charismatic” cult, church. I have a suggestion–the next time you visit one of the churches, calculate the percentage of non-white people who attend. I have family members who attend these churches, and they all have certain things in common:

    1) A lack of education beyond high school level, (although some do manage a bit of community college).
    2) They are followers of Ayn Rand, (which is hypocritical because she was a self-proclaimed atheist).
    3) A belief that racism doesn’t exist anymore, (when embedded racism is sadly quite prevalent in these small towns of middle America).
    4) It’s okay to attend church on Sunday, yet smoke marijuana, (an illegal drug), and drink on other days.
    50 The list goes on….

  53. Annie K. Fogelsonger
    November 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I was a member of Reslife and sadly I was faced with an important decision: do i stay and by staying it means I support what is going on here and to be honest with you, I could not stay. I cried many tears about the things that were going on and when I tried to warn leadership, I was blown off. Long story short..all of my concerns came to a sobering truth…and many lives were shattered, both young and old. The cover-ups of illegal things shocked me, as I never, ever dreamed my leadership would look the other way and do nothing to help. I am speaking about sexual abuse here to children by a pastor. He took advantage and altho I tried to warn leadership about what I was seeing, no action was taken to protect. All that was of concern was their own necks while the sheep were scattered, shattered and devastated. Please, I only speak these things because I lived in intimidation of not agreeing with leadership due to them constanting quoting “thou thalt not touch thine anointed.” There is a word for this kind of response: spiritual abuse. Saints…please, i urge you to change things. Don’t look the other way when you see or hear of things that are wrong. Please ask the Holy Spirit to give you even sharper discernment..with eyes to see and ears to hear…and the boldness to take a stand for who God has called us to be on the Earth.
    Thanks for listening,

    • Ethan Hunt
      February 6, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Hey buddy, I think I know your problem. You know that God is real, and know matter how hard you try, you can’t erase Him. If God isn’t real, what are you doing still talking about Him. If I say there is no gravity, I don’t believe in it, and jump out of a plane, what’s gonna happen? I’m gonna die. Or how about looking at a painting and saying, no one painted it. That’s silly man. If you don’t believe in God, where is God’s commands that are written on your heart coming from. What is your conscience? Creation screams that God is real and no matter how hard you try to hide from Him, you can’t. God loves you and is pulling you back to Him. Raise the white flag and quit fighting. God wins.

  54. Jessica
    February 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Jesus said this would happen. God bless all of you. If you’re hungry and need food, we’ll feed you. If you are naked and need clothes, we will cloth you. If you are looking to stir up contention and divide people, God is watching, and you’ll just have to talk to Him about it when you see Him. I am not the judge, He is. It is amazing how much grace, mercy and compassion He has for us all who are undeserving. He did say that I should bless you, so again, bless you.

  55. tmanqz
    May 11, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Just a little interesting nugget about that handsome worship leader/rockstar that made you want to switch sides…. . In 2010 he had an affair with his music intern. Left his wife and 3 kids homeless. Moved to MN. Married his mistress and is now weasling his way back into the ministry, posting youtube videos with his mistress/wife singing about the grace of God .
    I beleive he’s actually leading worship for some mega church with his mistress by his side. God is so good.

  1. January 6, 2008 at 5:08 pm
  2. January 7, 2008 at 1:24 am

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