Charisma online News Service
December 2, 2003 edition
Church & Ministry
Late-Night TV Inspires Church's Wednesday Service
"This is not your grandmother's Wednesday night Bible study class" could be the slogan for a Church of God (COG) in Cleveland, Tenn., congregation with an innovative mid-week service in the Tampa, Fla.-area.
Inspired by God and late-night TV host David Letterman, "Wednesday Night Live (WNL) with Pastor Rodney" is "hosted" by Rodney McKinley, associate pastor at Abundant Life Ministries in Largo.
"If we're honest, most Wednesday night church services need a shot in the arm," McKinley, 37, told Charisma News Service. "I call this sermon with a twist."
Instead of three points and a prayer, McKinley opens WNL at 7 p.m. with a monologue and some lighthearted banter with his co-host, followed by a top 10 list with some religious connection (for example, Reasons Why God Made Eve). They then welcome the guests: costumed characters straight out of the Bible.
"The Bible may never look the same again," "The Tampa Tribune" observed. The program features a backdrop scene of Tampa's downtown skyline, a desk for McKinley, a couch for Parro and the visitors, plus a live band that provides musical interludes. Giving the sense of a live TV production, a cameraman films all the action.
WNL - which started as a four-week experiment in June -- is a big hit, tripling attendance from 50 parishioners to about 150, and about 35 people have received Jesus and rededicated their lives to Christ.
"It's not just church folks who are coming," McKinley said. "They're bringing their neighbors, friends and co-workers. No matter how much fun we have, Jesus is still the center of the show. We never end it without giving someone the opportunity to receive Christ."