Houston Church Transforms Into Shift Christian Lounge at Night for Faith and Fellowship

People sing along during the second Shift Christian Lounge event on Saturday, July 5, 2019, at God Encounter Church in northwest Houston.Photo: Annie Mulligan, Contributor / Houston Chronicle

On the first Friday of the month, God Encounter Church transforms to become a whole different type of religious experience.

The lighting dims. Lounge tables pop up. Singers and poets gather near the microphone. The church, at 12423 Cutten, shifts gears and essentially becomes a nightclub.

Unlike other clubs, however, Shift Christian Lounge centers on faith and fellowship.

“We need to be able to create different avenues so people can serve God, have fun and be themselves,” founder and pastor Tony Ervin said. “This is an environment where you can come in and relax — and be out at night.”

The idea for a religion-themed nightclub came from his time in Orlando, Fla., Ervin explained.

“Christian lounges are big there,” he said. “When I came here, I thought, maybe we should give it a try and see how people respond.”

Marcus Sullivan, a deejay and radio host of a morning Christian hip-hop show on 91.7 FM, was one of the first people tapped to become a part of the event.

Ervin called and recruited him as host and emcee for the night.

At first, when he heard about the new venue, he couldn’t totally envision it. “Once I pulled up, I could feel the energy of the lounge,” he said. “And there’s entertainment that’s really good, professional singers, poets.”

Just like at a regular club, Sullivan ended up staying until 1 a.m. “And I had an amazing time,” he said. “I’m sold on it.”

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SOURCE: Houston Chronicle, Lindsay Peyton