Big Church, Little Church, Old Church, New Church

Religion plays a huge role in the lives of folks in the Texas Panhandle.

While the panhandle is home to very diverse faiths, those who call themselves Christians are clearly in the majority.

In Amarillo the beacons of Christian Worship found a home in the downtown area as the city grew up around them.

Dr. Robert Beckley plays organ at the First Presbyterian Church downtown. Heâ??s also a professor at West Texas A&M University, an expert in the Sociology of Religion.

In some places traditional services are making way for a more contemporary kind of approach.

Beckley says, "This all came about twenty, thirty years ago. Often it was in a new part of town so you had a language creeping in like "campus" and church became a campus. So what do you think of when you think of a campus? Schools, classrooms, auditorium, and cafeteria. The Mega Churches, what we called that phenomenon, provided activities for young adults, childrenâ?¦because if you donâ??t keep the children coming, youâ??ll lose membership."

Hillside Christian Church is large with multiple campuses across the panhandle.

When asked about Hillsideâ??s success, Judy Stallwitz, the Communications Director said, "I believe truth is what people are seeking. There are so many questions in life. People who hurt, theyâ??re looking for a solid rock of truth for them to hang on to. And theyâ??re looking for a place where people give them grace, because none of us are perfect. We have a saying. Itâ??s okay to not be okay. Itâ??s not okay to stay that way."

Beckley says mainline Protestant churches are borrowing from the non-denominational examples and setting up alternative services that feature informality and praise music.

He says, "Seems to me like many of the mainline Protestant churches are trying to play catch up."