Pastor Ryan Gallegos sprays paint and smashes a flat screen TV as a metaphor for the sin that people commit during an Easter service at Central Church. The theme of the Sunday service centered on the question of afterlife and where people go after death.
Pastor Ryan Gallegos sprays paint and smashes a flat screen TV as a metaphor for the sin that people commit during an Easter service at Central Church. The theme of the Sunday service centered on the question of afterlife and where people go after death.

April 13, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of columns in which reporter Annie Mehl visits and explores various churches in and around Carroll.

Fog rose from the ground and filled the air as confetti machines shot rainbow strings into the hair of children that danced to the beat of the band LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”

This was definitely a new kind of church.

On April 1, I attended Central Church of Carroll’s Easter Sunday service.

I had long awaited this service since I started my religion column last summer. I had heard about the fog machines, but I didn’t expect it to be like this.

There is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of Central. It has become popular with people my age, the notorious “millennials.”

The word is “extra.” By definition, extra is “to a greater extent than usual; especially.”

Central is very extra.

Everyone seemed to be enthralled by the music. The vocalists had congregation members on their feet dancing, cheering and clapping along with the music.

Kids stood beneath the stage, arms locked, as they swayed to the music and dove into the confetti machines whenever they sprayed out another burst of colorful streamers.

A boy wearing the colors of the American flag jumped onstage to rap about Jesus until his dad, Central Pastor Ryan Gallegos, pushed him out of the way to finish the rap.

After a mix of pop and Christian music, Gallegos took the stage to talk about what happens after death.

“Do you know where you’re going to spend eternity?” he asked the congregation. “You’ve got two choices: heaven or hell. Both of them are real.”

Gallegos then threw out a few statistics: 68 percent of people think they are going to heaven when they die, but 25 percent said they don’t know.

“I’ve met one person in my life that said, ‘I think I’m going to hell when I die — I don’t think it will be that bad,’” Gallegos said. “I was like, ‘Dude, it’s called hell.’”

The theme of the sermon centered on the question of eternity and where we will spend it. Without Jesus, Gallegos said, our lives are empty and broken.

What happened next, is in my opinion, the real definition of the word “extra.”

Gallegos stood beside a 43-inch flat-screen TV and began to spray paint its screen.

I was horrified. I glanced around the room to see if the others saw what I was witnessing.

Online, a TV of the same size sells for $199.99.

This trick wasn’t particular to this service. Gallegos destroyed two TVs during his sermons on Saturday and two more on Sunday.

If all of the TVs were the same brand, that’s $800 worth of TVs.

As he spray-painted the TV pink and red, Gallegos shouted about those who live their lives without Jesus.

“If you are here, without Jesus, this is you,” he said, pointing to the TV.

Next, he picked up a hammer.

“When bad stuff happens in our life, when damage gets done, when stuff like that happens, we need help,” Gallegos said, as he proceeded to hammer in the TV’s screen. “We can’t go through life ignoring this.”

The message of Central Church of Carroll is tell people about Jesus, Gallegos later said in an interview with the Daily Times Herald.

“I want to use illustrations that stick in people’s minds, and if busting a TV gets there ...” he said. “I’m sure that works. The whole thing was — the TV was supposed to represent the life that God has given us. We screw it up. We sin and we make mistakes. We damage it, and we put holes in it.”

Still, $800 worth of TVs. I mean, couldn’t a cheap art canvas from Walmart suffice as a metaphor for sin? Some people skip meals because they cannot afford groceries. Meanwhile, here we are hammering into flat-screens and painting them pink.

Moving past the destroyed TV, I knew that Central is promoting positive messages to the Carroll area.

Recently, Gallegos had a series at the church on loving your neighbors — no matter who they are. While studying at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, Indiana, Gallegos said, he was one of the only white men in school.

“Like a school that pumps out black preachers — that’s what I call it all of the time,” Gallegos said.

Then he moved to a predominantly white area and wanted to start talking about the issue of race in Carroll and discuss loving those who have a different skin color, ethnicity or whatever it may be, he said.

“Coming here to white middle America, you don’t really think about it or anything, but it’s still an issue,” he said. “We did a series and talked about how racism is wrong. It’s not a behavior that we are born with; it’s something that somebody taught us. Grandma or Grandpa taught us how to hate.”

Central recently started providing bus transportation to and from the church to residents at the Fairview Village Apartments, which have developed a poor reputation in Carroll.

I feel this big need that we need to be a church to everybody,” Gallegos said. “We don’t just need to be a church to people who look like us or act like us. We really need to reach out.”