The lessons God is planting in my heart.
When I lived in Northern Virginia, my land lady asked me to come to her church to work with youth in the immediate neighborhood.Door to door, I asked the parents if their children could come for a water baloon battle. The parents thought that sounded great. Later that week, I walked through the neighborhood. I said hello to some of the kids. Reminded them of the water balloon war. I knocked on the doors of some of those I knew were receptive and asked them to remember the water balloon war and invite friends and family. On the day of the water baloon battle, the parents and children came. All were dressed in appropriate foot wear and clothing.There were so many people on the grounds, the teams could not hide themselves. Immediately after putting on red or blue paint (faces or arms or both), water was flying and wet people took a seat. A half an hour later, a new game. At the end of the event, I asked all to join me at the steps to the front door of the church. I asked, how many of the people there had ever walked up those stairs. Not many.Then I said, "I don't know what we will do this Sunday. I'm here, in your community to work with your children. We want to develop social skills, and assist in homework and be a safe place for all of you. Come to church this Sunday. Give us a chance." I told them, I am going to pray for them this week. That week, I brought some friends in from another church to help.Sunday came and about 1/3 of the people around the steps were their with my fledgling ministry team. Some had ideas, some were counting on me to assign duties. I asked the parents to meet in the fellowship hall. The children went to their age groups. Me and the ministry team asked the parents, 'what do you and your children need?'.In a month, I had taken many of the children with me to another church. We went to hear a band play every Saturday night. It was a friend of mine. A minister preached and I told the kids we would go to Apple Bee's(?) every Saturday after Church. I would buy French Fries and Milk Shakes for everyone if we could talk about the sermon. Those kids listened and told me what the pastor was talking about.When the Church Board had their monthly meeting, a month and a half after I began working there they wanted to hear what I had to offer. I told them we were going to have a band and we would plan activities. We would have after school study labs and I don't know what to teach the children, they were all different ages; I will need help with that. The following board meeting, the board said they did not want the band. "What would the church down the street think?", was one of the concerns. Well, I got tired of spending my money and the parents that let me use their van were tired of that. I had more kids wanting to go each Saturday and the parents did not want to help anymore. They wanted the program we started with to be in their community. I was out of resources. I had to go door-to-door and tell all of those families the church did not want my program with music at its church and I don't have the funds or the transportation needed to continue taking the children on Saturday.
(part II)I eventually left the church, as it was too depressing to go to an empty building. The church closed the doors the Summer of 94 and merged with the church down the street. Literally the church the woman was referring to when she asked "What will the church down the street think?", in reference to having electric instruments and drums in the church. Simple sounds great. But, the truth is, parents and kids want entertainment. Kids proved to me, with a little bribe, they will listen to a sermon. However, I was going to the community trying to build a church and the community grew tired of coming with me. The slowly lost interest and that church did not want what the community wanted. If you think about it, even that illustration of "simple church" is a gimic. People like being entertained. Children would much rather go to a movie on a Saturday than go to church. The church has to compete.
Thanks for the comment, Jim. I am not the expert to 'debate' on this or give opinions but I must say that God has been doing something in me the past 2 years and He has really opened my eyes that there *are* many different ways THE church can express itself. The missional church isn't a strategy ---- it is completely completely different than the attractional church. You're right - it would not do a simple job of 'attracting' people --- but as the video tries to show - they are not trying to! The goal is not attracting people to (a building, a service, a program). It's about GOING and bringing the church TO others. I *DO* think there is a place for the attractional church --- it is very much a transitional place in my mind --- usually attracting people (christians) who have been away from the church for a long time and need to see that God isn't stale traditional and boring as they thought when they were growing up. HOWEVER I don't agree that "the church needs to compete" with anything. Just beacuse it's what the people demand, doesn't make it right. People demand entertainment because we are a nation obsessed with it, entertainment, hollywood & ourselves.... we are selfish and immature. I don't see anywhere in the Bible about instructions to the church to have an awesome program full of (entertainment in whatever form). I do see a lot of GO and HE builds His Church - through us... not in a building - in a setting of people wherever, whenever. We need to show our kids that relationship with God is more than a feeling. Community is more than 1 day a week. Church isn't a show. Church isn't "done" == it IS. Anyway ---- there's sooo much more to say - but you're just thinking from a totally different model entirely.
p.s. I still believe that there is a place for creativity, art and creative learning/teaching however we gather as a church. I just don't agree it has to be in a building by one man preaching.
Hi Randi Jo, You are correct about Simple church having a place. There are all kinds of people who appreciate different things in life. Today's young people typically will seek crouds. The church in Northern Virginia was sitting in the midst of a garden of youth. The church members did not want to evolve. They would literally ask, "Why can't people just come and accept us the way we have been for years?" You see? They did not want to adapt to the needs of others. That is one of the first rules of ministry.
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