WARR ACRES — Step inside Flynn's Arcade and take the wildest ride of your dreams on a “light cycle” careening along a glow-in-the-dark video game grid.
It's not the fantasy world of the movie “Tron: Legacy” but rather the lobby of LifeChurch.tv's northwest campus, 5821 Northwest Expressway.
Brian Bruss, campus pastor, said the church's lobby has been transformed into scenes from the 2010 film in conjunction with the “At the Movies” sermon series under way at all LifeChurch.tv locations. Bruss said the annual series draws numerous visitors to the LifeChurch.tv churches for messages featuring LifeChurch.tv Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel's mix of clips of popular movies and Scripture-based teaching.
Bruss said summer time is traditionally a season when church attendance dwindles because of school break and family vacations. However, the movie series has gained such popularity that his LifeChurch.tv campus and others generally see attendance increase during that time. The series continues through worship services Saturday and Sunday and July 23-24.
“We see more people come to Christ during that time of the year (“At The Movies” series) than at any other time of the year, which is really unusual,” he said.
He said about 3,000 people attended the LifeChurch.tv worship services during the July Fourth weekend. He said the church typically draws between 2,700 and 2,800 for weekly Saturday and Sunday services, so the attendance was markedly high, particularly for a holiday weekend.
Decorations are fun
Bruss said staff members at each LifeChurch.tv campus are encouraged to have fun with the series by decorating their lobby area with a movie theme.
That's why a visitor to the northwest campus is immediately immersed these days in a cavernous black-lit room filled with large “light cycles” — patterned after the movie's iconic vehicles that scale walls — along with other items featured prominently in “Tron: Legacy.”
Jason Robison, host team pastor, said it took about 200 volunteers several days to re-create the fantasy world of the “Tron” game grid.
The 2010 movie is a sequel to the 1982 cult classic “Tron.” The recent film follows the adventures of Sam Flynn, whose father, Kevin Flynn, known as the world's leading video game developer, has been missing for years. In Sam's search for his dad, he becomes immersed in the video game grid where a battle for control is ongoing.
Robison said the northwest campus lobby was transformed into Andy's room from the hit animated movie “Toy Story 3” last year. He said he came up with the idea for the “Tron” theme because he loved the first movie and had just watched the sequel.
He said visitors to the church thus far have “been absolutely blown away.
“It's basically a total transformation from Flynn's to the (game) grid,” he said.
Visitors walk first into an area decorated like the movie's Flynn's Arcade, where they may play vintage video games such as the original “Tron” arcade game.
Then they enter the backlit game grid area through a simulated portal.
Robison said the fluorescent grid on the floor that also helps deliver the themed-area's wow factor was created with clear tape over white receipt tape.
Robison said they had no idea at first how they were going to create the grid but set up a blacklit room to experiment. The resulting “Tron”-like effect was “a glorious
Then there is the “End of the Line Bar” area where visitors may order sweet tea, coffee or “Tron drinks” — tonic water mixed with Kool-Aid so that they glow in the dark like the drinks ordered at the bar in “Tron.”
Robison said a large tank that shoots out free T-shirts to visitors was created around a golf cart so that it can move. He said the massive “light cycles” featured in the lobby were crafted out of foam and were the only items created off-site, by a company called Taylor Foam. Other parts of the set were created by Matt Carr, one of the youth pastors, along with other
Meanwhile, Bruss said the movies featured as part of the lobby themes at LifeChurch.tv campuses are not the films featured as part of the worship service messages. He said the movie-theme decor just helps celebrate the “At the Movies” theme and helps encourage church members to remember to invite someone to visit.
And they generally do.
“Movies are so huge in our culture, I think we've just tapped into something that people can identify with,” Bruss said. “It's something that's different from a lot of churches.”