Theme Park Nation: The Future of Mega-Churches?

National Geographic has a fascinating article on the development of Orlando, from its sleepy origins that Mr. Walt Disney himself “discovered” the day Kennedy was killed to the outer edges of its multi-cultural edge cityness of today.

The author, T.D. Allman, covers lots of territory here, just like Orlando’s tract housing:

  • Theme parks
  • Mega-churches
  • Globalization
  • Jack Kerouac

I learned how Orlando’s largest mega church, First Baptist, grew much like Disney–thinking big and thinking ahead, and getting lots of real estate for future expansion. Its pastor, Jim Henry, says, “We’ve done what Wal-Mart and football have. We’ve broken down the idea that ‘big is bad.'” Hmmm.

When it comes to mega churches, focus on the parking, the article explains. Color-coded signals prompt ministers at one such institution to keep their sermons on schedule to ensure the congregation can clear out of the parking lot before the next throng hits.

“Everything happening to America is happening here.” Is this a cautionary tale or a reflection of America as a whole today? Should we feel pessimistic about sprawl, poor planning, and crumbling infrastructure? Or optimistic that whatever the obstacles, visionaries and hard workers continue to move forward? Check out the article and let me know what you think.


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