A Lynnwood church disguised as a movie theater

When you think of a church you probably don’t think of a movie mega-plex with a snack bar in the lobby. But that’s exactly where dozens of people come to worship every Sunday.

The 16-screen AMC Loews Alderwood Mall rents two of its theaters to Lynnwood’s Sound Church, which 30-year-old Judson Bartels and his wife started earlier this year.

“Many churches are all about getting into a building. The net result is that the church is known as a building rather than a community of people,” Bartels said.

The church pays AMC Loews a weekly rent of $715. They use theater 5 for the regular adult service and theater 6 for their children’s ministry known as Wave Kids.

“We do set up and tear down every service. All of our equipment is in a 27-foot car hauler and includes everything a normal church would have: sound, lights, video, instruments, information centers, signage, children’s ministry supplies, nursery supplies, hospitality and more. Our crews show up at 7 a.m. and we have to be out by noon each Sunday,” Bartels said.

Sound Church plans to stay at the the theater as long as they can.

“Sound Church is not a building, a club or any other typical connotation of church, it is the people that identify themselves with us,” Bartels added. “We intend to stay mobile as long as we can, and since the Loews theater is huge, that should basically be long-term.”

The Bartels built the church from the ground up after they moved to Lynnwood last September. “When we arrived, we started meeting other people, posting ads on Craigslist for more launch team members, and fundraising.” With the help of a national organization that helps “plant” churches, they began with $60,000 of capital investment.

About 40 people attend each Sunday. They run the gamut from executives and engineers to homemakers and unemployed, and most of them are young adults. But Bartels everyone is welcome to check it out for themselves.

“You will hear loud, live music. We are called Sound Church, after all.”

Photos courtesy of Judson Bartels

  1. I love what Sound Church is doing! Sounds like the same thing my wife and I started in Berlin, Germany 6 years ago. It's all about loving God and loving people! If you are lonely, wanting connection with others or have any questions about God, you should check them out.

    Jim Johnson, Reset Berlin

  2. I love what Sound Church is doing. It sounds like what my wife and I started 6 years ago in Berlin, Germany. It's all about loving God and people. If you are lonely, wanting to connect or have questions about God, you should check them out.

    Jim Johnson, Reset Berlin

  3. Blueeyedfish: Lots of folks around the country are supporting this group as it grows. Therefore, the math works. Many churches like this, now numbering in the thousands as far as attendance, started just like this one! Keep the faith!

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