Study: Church can be fun

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2001

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) -- Church can be exciting and fun, concludes a study on church excellence that focuses on 600 congregations around the nation, including some that are far from traditional.

One church profiled was Warehouse 242 in Charlotte, where a Friday night service at a downtown auditorium attracted casually dressed young people, who got a cup of coffee at the door and a travel mug to take home. Rock music and preaching shared the stage.

Paul Wilkes, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, conducted the two-year study. He said the idea for the study came after he visited a Catholic church in Upper Saddle River, N.J., about two years ago.

''I had been to a place where religion was fun,'' he said. ''Religion felt right. It felt honest. It wasn't stodgy, yet it was respectful.''

The study, funded by a $190,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment, identified 300 Protestant congregations and 300 Catholic congregations. The churches include a 60-member Lutheran congregation in Lone Wolf, Okla., and large churches in Boston and Texas.

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