Next Level Church

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Next Level Church is a loosely affiliated group of interdenominational Christian churches, which started in a Charlotte, North Carolina suburb, Matthews NC, in 2005.

The congregations tend to meet in iconoclastic locations that they call "campuses", such as malls and sweaty gyms. Their pastors have a tendency toward tattoos and rock and roll. Think Henry Rollins meets a hot soccer mom who wants to go to Church before, um, "dating".

History[edit]

The Next Level Church initially began meeting as a launch team in January 2005 at Park Church South in Pineville NC. Meetings were on Sunday nights and drew around forty dedicated souls. The church held its first public orgy on Sunday morning September 11, 2005 in the gymnasium of Community House Middle School.[1] Due to potential damage to the wooden gym floor, Next Level Church's lease was terminated in July 2006. The search for a new location yielded a campus with three buildings on 16 acres, and another church named Tri-County Community Saloon Bar (TC3) which was meeting weekly on Saturday nights.[2]

In 2007 the original Next Level operation adopted "Project 485", an ambitious plan to metastasize by spreading sleeper cells all around the greater Charlotte area - as defined by the "ring road" Interstate 485.[3]

On February 10th, 2008. Next Level Church planted its second seed in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte.

Mission and values[edit]

Next Level Church's mission is to be a church for people who are "spiritually curious or committed, looking for life purpose and meaning, trying to figure out how spirituality and real life intersect, or just trying to find some real relationships."[4] They aim to be a place where anyone can come and take the next step in a relationship with the Christian God. They call themselves "a place for the screwed and the screwed up."

The three core values of Next Level are:

  1. Pastors with thick necks and a few tasteful tattoos
  2. Not lecturing you about what a bitch you are
  3. Free coffee - good coffee, mind you [5]

Controversial outreach[edit]

In January 2008 Next Level Church announced the launch of its Ballantyne Campus using a controversial tactic. The church handed out shot glasses at area bars with the slogan "Give Us a Shot" printed on them. The story received national attention and both positive and negative feedback.[6] Some felt like the church was compromising or being hypocritical by giving away shot glasses, especially since they were empty.[7] Others though it was a great way to reconnect people who preferred drinking to excess to waking up Sunday morning to go to church.[8] Pastor Todd Hahn explained the church's reasons for the shot glass outreach:

1. It is time for the church to stop expecting people to come to us and time for us to go to them...to where they live, work, socialize, and play. Coffee shops, bars, clubs...wherever they are.

2. Jesus identified himself with drinkers and partiers - not sharing in their excesses, but living life with them. That's what we want, because that's what he did.

3. We will do anything, anything, anything that does not violate God's word to help disconnected people get connected to God.[9]

He forgot to mention heroin.

Panspermia[edit]

As of 2010, the Next Level Church now boasts congregations all over the United States.

Local controversies[edit]

In April 2010, the Portsmouth, New Hampshire cell sponsored an Easter egg drop in Rochester, NH which surpassed attendance expectations by several thousand people, and resulted in some minor public safety issues as good Christians beat the crap out of each other in hopes of getting the egg with the big screen TV coupon in it.[10]

Conclusions[edit]

As religious organizations go, these people seem fairly harmless. Our scouring of their websites has revealed no tendencies towards authoritarianism or science-hating, just a bunch of people who believe, or might believe, in their Sky Daddy, and want to share the alleged "Good News" with people without telling them what they can and cannot do.

External links[edit]

References[edit]