Sunday, March 10, 2013

Suffer the Children a Robotic Rhino
At this time of year, it is not hard to recall the message of Jesus Christ.  While the overly commercialized Christmas season fades in our rearview mirror, Easter rapidly approaches, still mostly safe from the industrial gift-giving machine (mostly).  Yet, in some corners, the everyday commercialization of the Word commences with seemingly unabashed fervor.

Cornerstone Church in San Antonio recently opened its newest building - a $5 million children’s center called the Ark.  Designed after the story of Noah and the Ark, the new building is meant to attract young people to the church.  You can read the news story here.

Church members expect their leaders to responsibly spend their donations.  Appropriate stewardship should lead to church growth, spreading Christ’s message of love, sacrifice, and redemption.  An innovative pastorate crafts a message that resonates in the hearts and souls of its flock.  Children come to Christ through the Word and His calling. the design for the Ark is innovative and intended to capture the minds of children, and I do respect their creativity, I question the decision to aim for over the top extravagance.  Included in the building are sixteen life-size Ark passengers - nine of which are animatronics built by Hollywood company Animal Makers.  The rhino actually appeared in the movie “2012.”  

When asked whether or not the animatronics were too extravagant, Executive Pastor Matthew Hagee’s answer raised my eyebrows:  “If casinos can build opulent buildings to incentivize gamblers to want to come and enjoy their weekend, how then can you justify not building something that would incentivize people to come and hear about the Word of God?”
I am sure Jesus would appreciate the comparison between Sin City and a house of God.  In fact, by returning to the source and consulting the Son of Man himself, it would seem that I missed the animatronic Giraffe standing behind Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount; I lost it in the small print.  Oh, and a corrected translation of the New Testament reveals that it wasn’t Jesus who over turned the money changers’ tables at the temple - it was an animatronic Rhino.

Humor aside, my point is this.  Given the right collection of messages, a pastorate who teaches parents how to lead their homes, and an appropriate learning environment, there should be no problem guiding children to Christ.  Rather than spending money on unnecessary expenditures, raise money to help people who need it.

Mr. Hagee even acknowledged the extravagance: “I don’t have any problem with somebody saying it’s over the top.”  

You know who might agree with Mr. Hagee?  The more than 500 homeless children in the San Antonio area documented as of November 2012 by SAMMinistries.  

What would make a larger Christ-like impact on a child’s life?  Knowing animatronics wait for you at church?  Or, knowing that a Christian organization gave you a home out of the goodness of their heart.  

I think I know which one Jesus would choose.


  1. I don't know who you are but you couldn't be further from the truth, you self righteous boob!!

    Take a minute and read the article in the San Antonio Express News--an unusually positive one about that church---and you may be able to relate. I may be too optimistic towards your intelligence but I think even you can understand why the church did what it did.

    If you can or have the nerve to be fair and impartial why not go to their "Open House" next Saturday from 12-4 PM ? Then see how horrible it is that kids are enjoying themselves at church in a 21st Century environment where simple children's songs and puppets just don't relate anymore.

    I bet you've already made your decision and really don't care how you defame anyone.

    1. Thanks for the inventive insult! I don't think I have ever been called a boob before. I did read the San Antonio Express news story - that is where I first learned of Cornerstone's new additions. I appreciate your optimism towards my intelligence and I can understand why they made their choice; I just don't agree with it. I am sure you can appreciate me developing my own opinion regardless of whether or not it agrees with yours.

      On a separate note, I have seen churches that develop a burgeoning youth membership without the gimmicks. I find it refreshing that Christ becomes the attraction.

      By the way, defamation - a false accusation of an offense or a malicious misrepresentation of someone's words or actions - did not occur. This was simply the statement of opinion.