Guest / Limited Access /

The fog from the smoke machine is especially thick this Easter morning in Colorado Springs. Green lasers dance across the stage and over the thousands gathered, making no discernible pattern as they slice into the fog. The service this morning is at a fever pitch. A sprawling praise band populates the stage: guitarists and singers, a cellist, a horn section, a dj and turntable, percussionists of various sorts, a keyboardist, a pianist, and a full choir. It's a lot of sound, a lot of light—a lot of a lot.

A lot is the way Easter is announced at New Life Church. You take your standard megachurch service, and you turn it up all the way.

The year is 2006, and New Life has never basked in a brighter spotlight. Ted Haggard, who founded the nondenominational church in his basement in 1984, has been president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) for two years, and he's leveraged the position into a formidable platform. Hardly a Sunday goes by without media—tv and newspaper reporters, documentary filmmakers—roaming the building, or without Haggard delivering a tale of expanding influence. He recounts a conversation with a heady politician, or an interview with a cable news talking head, that lets him redefine the evangelical stance-qua-Haggard on whatever issues are making headlines that week: abortion (con), the environment (pro), immigration (pro), same-sex marriage (con), the war efforts in Afghanistan (pro), and Iraq (super-pro).

Those far outside New Life have taken notice. A year earlier in Harper's, journalist Jeff Sharlet christened it the "nation's most powerful megachurch," observing that "no pastor in America holds more sway over the political direction ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueThree Views: Why Confess Sins in Worship When It Seems So Rote?
Subscriber Access Only Three Views: Why Confess Sins in Worship When It Seems So Rote?
How the habit heals us.
RecommendedMay You Not Be Weird and 30 Other Prayers for My Future Husband
May You Not Be Weird and 30 Other Prayers for My Future Husband
All the single Christians said, “Amen.”
TrendingSpeak Truth to Trump
Speak Truth to Trump
Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump's blatant immorality.
Editor's PickThe Best Ways to Help the Poor
The Best Ways to Help the Poor
A new book, building on three classics, fills out the picture.
Christianity Today
New Life After the Fall of Ted Haggard
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.