An open conversation concerning the Christian Church in America.

Let me first state that I love The Church. I believe it to be the expression of Christ to the world. This site is not intended to be a forum to bash The Church or any particular church. What this site is, is an open conversation about the state of The Church in America and how we as members in this Church can better reflect Christ to our culture.

Welcome to the conversation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What would a church for the unchurched look like?

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Once the unchurched become part of the church it's no longer a church for the unchurched but a church for the churched...uh, I think. What has been floating around my mind is what would a church look like if its core competency was to connect with people who have never been a part of a church community?


Brian Phillips said...

This kind of church would be deeply connected to the heart of our God. John writes that God so loved the world that he gave! Israel was set apart to show the world what God is like.

God instructed Israel to love the stranger in their midst. Leviticus 19.33-34 When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

Exodus 23.9 You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.

A church who desires to reach the Stranger (the outsider to God's Kingdom) would be an authentic genuine down to earth place. They would not judge! They would be in tune with the mission of Christ. For this is the day of salvation. Judgement day comes upon his return. So we are about salvation not judgement. its not that we do not judge, but we judge ourself and only out of love we can judge our brother in Christ.

This church would passionately come alive in the power of their new identity in Christ. Who they are now! They would be aware of their purpose as ambassadors in this Kingdom. Walking fully in the knowledge that the resources they posses are for a reason, to bless the world around them!

This church would call out the religious pious spirit that opposes the way of Jesus! It would call it out by bringing the raw powerful reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. Bringing heaven to earth here and now!

Well I could go on and on. But I am very passionate about this beautiful thing called the Church!

Joel Labertew said...

It's 9:00 PM. I was most of the night with my 2 year old last night. And frankly, after reading BP's comments I feel like saying, "ditto" and going to bed. But I'll throw my mentally deficient two cents into the mix... Let me simply name a few values that I think are fundamental and then elaborate briefly on each.

SAFE: A church must be safe. Safe to be yourself. Safe to say, "my marriage stinks." Safe to say, "I sleep around." Safe to say, "I've been bored in church so long I've lost my love for Jesus." Safety begins in the lead pastor. If he/she is safe, the organization will be safe. A safe pastor is an individual who's comfortable in their own skin, is more concerned with genuineness than perfection, and is willing to share their failures in public and in more importantly in the privacy of one on one conversation.

HELPFUL: A church that reaches the lost loves the word "help." We help people -- that's not a slogan it's a mindset. A church can't help everyone, but if someone within relational influence wants to find Jesus, they should kick the door down to help.

GOSPEL-LOVING: A church that is designed for the unchurched loves the Gospel - the news that we can be right with God, right with each other, and right with ourselves. And all that because of Jesus. The Gospel is unchurched friendly. Preach it, talk about it, live it, love it. The good news is best news to those who are desperate for it.

LED BY BIG, LOUD, BALD MEN: Our church isn't, but Chicagoland sure could use one...

dug said...

So BP, what are you doing NOW to connect to those who are "outsiders" as Kinnaman calls them, beside CTU (Come To Us) events?

dug said...

JL, I will ask you the same question, what is your community currently doing to make a connection with those outside any church? Also, is connecting with those outsiders a regular part of your staff conversation?

Brian Phillips said...

Well we host an Annual Egg Hunt. Last year we had 1,800 people show up. Our heart behind this is to be a blessing. We are blessed to bless! So we do not do these events to grow our church, if that happens it is a side bonus. We are gearing up right now for another huge egg hunt. We give away great prizes just to be a blessing no strings attached. We also host an Annual Block Party to do the same thing. We bless people with a day of fun. Both events are free. Our community loves it and they have a blast participating. We have knocked on over 5,000 doors to give our community fresh baked cookies. We say that we baked cookies for the entire neighborhood and wanted to let you know that we care!

Our vision is Widows, Orphans, Strangers! So our church eats this stuff all the time. I just taught on this to our leaders last Sunday night. My first post was just a huge chunk of my notes from that teaching. We are here to rescue and save people with the power of a risen Messiah baby! It does not get any better than that my friend. We will bring salvation to this entire County one person, one heart, one soul at a time!

Brian Phillips said...

The leaders who reaches the unchurched might relate to the following:

A deep frustration with Church traditions.
A sense that he might not belong in Church at all.
Like a pioneer who is on the front lines of redeeming the mission of the Church.
A holy frustration with the ivory tower mentality.

This is how I feel. How do you take this beautiful mission to our generation? How do you see people come to true freedom? Free from addictions and the pain that drives them to shame? How do you take the power of a risen Messiah to your community?

You pray. You trust his Spirit. You mobilize teams and inspire them to be what they we created to be! UNLEASH them with passion. Church is not a building it is a person and that person is you and I who follow Jesus! We are the Church. And when we gather it has profound implications!

I love the scene from Braveheart when the men who follow William Wallace are on the field of battle with blue face paint applied by passionate believers in freedom. They are standing there fully ready for battle and they ask William, "What should we do now?" And he said, "Just be yourselves!"

When we follow Jesus he unleashes us to be ourself, who he created us to be! The church must embrace this. We must throw out our standardized approach to replicate cookie cutter disciples. Just unleash people to be who God created them to be.

Maybe that is what King David did with his mighty men. There must have been something healing about David. It brought healing to these misfits. They were already great when David found them, but maybe being around him made them realize that! so as people come to Christ we desire to help them see how great they are now in his Spirit!

dug said...

BP, that's all awesome.
I love the James 1.27 vision, It sounds like you are connecting or at least providing the opportunity to connect to strangers, but how can you/we care for widows and orphans in suburbia/rural America?

dudeyonica said...

I think these are all fair assesments of what church should be...regardless of whether it's for the churched or unchurched. I think the biggest difficulty any church that is trying to reach "the lost" is overcoming the same mentality that comes with calling them "the lost." What I mean to say is that it seems that Christians draw a clear line in the sand of saying who's saved and who's not, theology aside, this creates separation no matter how you look at it. So, a church planning to reach the unchurched needs to think quite clearly outside of this normal church box.

I work with web pages and so this is my analogy (adapted with thoughts from Doug Pagitt). The internet's there whether you're connected to it or not. Once you decide you want to connect to the internet, you can choose many different methods. Cable, DSL, dial-up (eek!) and once you've made that choice, there's wired versus wireless. No matter HOW you connect to the's the same internet. This analogy only goes that far because in the technology world there's debate as to which is faster and thus "better", so assuming speeds are the one choice is better than the other, just different. In this case, I think church for the unchurched needs to come up with a brand new's not Cable, DSL or's something different and hopefully someone will think of it.

Perhaps it would be fair to look at the communities "unchurched" folks find themselves...that would also mean, where WE hang out when we're not involved with "churchy" things :) Coffee shops, cafes, bars, bowling alleys, malls and homes are just some. Ok, so what makes those places comfortable? They are welcoming, accomodating and everyone that is there has a right to be there. So, why should church be different? I think unchurched folks are very skeptical of church-goers because they feel they will be "called out" or condemned. Since we don't have that right, we should give that impression, so a church for the unchurched should deliver that message clearly in order to be effective.

dug said...

I know of a guy in Pennsylvania that who has "bar chaplain" ministry. He goes into bars on a regular basis and makes his ears available for anyone who wants to talk. No condemnation, no judging, just listening. Now I think this is very innovative, but why can't we just do this, all of us do this as a part of our life. Now if you are an alcoholic, maybe this isn't such a good idea, but if you're not, why not? I think we are tempted to make it a "ministry" because we would be afraid of what fellow bubble people would think about us.

dudeyonica said...

Yes, isn't it interesting something as simple as listening becomes a remarkable ministry. Why is it remarkable, because it hasn't been done before, because the person goes TO the people, because of the setting or some combination of all of those things? If any of them are part of the equation, shouldn't we ask ourselves why that's remarkable? It seems like a pretty basic practice of someone trying to live a more God-centric life...loving someone.

What if we call it a ministry because we still have the separation of "lost" and "found"? Is it a ministry because those people aren't believers? Can it NOT be a ministry if it were a bar full of Christians? Interesting challenges...

Gene Hudgins Jr. said...

A 'church' for the unchurched (i.e. unreached) would possibly look like the early church where man made elements were stripped and the basis for meeting was scripture, breaking bread, sharing as all has need.

Andromeda said...

I think you have the right idea. This "unchruch" for the "unchurched" would be Christians reflecting Christ in our actions, habits, and especailly in out treatment of other people. To reach people who don't know the Lord, we must "always be prepared to give an explanation for the hope that [we] have" which to me means that we show that our joy is in the Lord and that our lives are a witness to others so that when they see us happy and non-judgemental, loving, generous, forgiving, willing to hang out with the lost and pray for them, in other words, when we protray all of the attributes of Jesus, then WE will be the church for the unchurched.

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