Countryside Christian Center debuts new 100,000-plus-square-foot worship center today

CLEARWATER

It's easy to find salvation, especially if you have a computer. Just get online and type in your address as a starting location and 1850 N McMullen-Booth Road as your destination and you can Mapquest your way to the Lord.

To believers, he'll be present at Countryside Christian Center's new 100,000-plus-square-foot worship center, which will have its first service at 10:30 a.m. today.

The facility isn't exactly pretty, like a charming white steeple church.

It's more like an office building or warehouse, and is big for a reason: to capture as many road ragers and other lost souls driving past the sanctuary on McMullen-Booth Road — and beyond — as possible.

And save them.

The Rev. John Lloyd, Countryside Christian's senior pastor, said it is his understanding that 65 percent of baby boomers "are nonbelievers."

And "the boomers are in control," he said.

"God's word has slowly but steadily been chipped away by the enemy until today we find ourselves in a post-Christian society," he wrote in an e-mail to the St. Petersburg Times. "(The) morally-polluted (entertainment) industry has entered our homes and into the hearts and minds of young people and has kidnapped them.

"The satanically-inspired source of destruction through various entertainment media has brought extensive damage to our culture and millions of kids and adults."

He said our culture is allowing morally corrupt thought to shape our life values and "it's time to wake up."

"There's a great storm coming, but people don't believe it," Lloyd said.

People, he said, are breaking every single commandment and they don't seem to care.

"People have access to pornography on their phone," he said.

He's hoping sinners will come to the new worship center and change their ways.

Church members raised $12 million to construct the state-of-the-art 2,600-seat facility, which took five years to complete. Work was hampered in part by unstable soil and a shipment of faulty steel.

Workers last week were putting the finishing touches on the cafe, called the C 3 Cafe (stands for celebrate, connect and care) and the enormous sanctuary with theater seating reminiscent of a state-of-the-art performance hall.

"It's going to take us to the next level (concertwise)," said the Rev. Glenn Davis, the church's associate pastor. "We're going to be able to bring in the top-tier acts in Christian music."

The center also boasts a nursery; a preschool area with cartoon characters, slides and toys; a soon-to-be-finished 300-seat chapel where weddings will be held and a children's church.

Called Studio K, the children's church features video games, a stage for plays and concerts, air hockey and a real Volkswagen bug parked in the corner.

There are also classrooms for adult study, a resource center/book shop and a 750-gallon baptism tank that is almost as big as a backyard pool and even has jets.

The old church building will be remodeled and used for the church's school, Countryside Christian Academy, which offers classes for kindergarteners through eighth-graders.

The academy has 120 students. With the renovation, the church will be able to accept 150 to 200 more students.

Lloyd co-founded Countryside Christian Center more than 20 years ago. The first service was in a living room of a Clearwater house and drew less than a dozen worshipers.

He is still amazed at how the ministry has grown.

"It's been an exciting journey," he said.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

$12M Amount raised by church members to build the facility.

2,600 Number of seats in the worship center.

800 Number of seats in the wedding/children's chapel.

750 Gallons of water in baptism tank.

If you go

First service

in new center

Countryside Christian Center will have its first service in its new worship center at 10:30 a.m. today. The church is at 1850 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. For information, call (727) 799-1618 or visit www.countryside

christiancenter.org.

Countryside Christian Center debuts new 100,000-plus-square-foot worship center today 06/06/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 6, 2009 2:51pm]

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