Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

17 November 2009

Had some good church this morning...


... in my living room, with 6 people watching Elf together and sticking Captain Kindness "Share the Jolly with a Poly-Lolly" stickers on 3500 suckers. We're about to give them away at the Santa Claus parade in a couple of weeks... and it's a lot of work for a lot of people.

But it was work that was a joy to do together, accomplished a lot, strengthened friendships and was The Church in motion. It's the church that you don't see on Sunday morning. You can't get a full picture (or barely partial picture) of a church in small self-guarded segments like a Sunday morning often is. One of the things about our church (Freedom House) is that it's a ministry center with a ministry team made up of ALL the members! And that means that to GET it... service, work, time, effort and personal responsibility for one's own spiritual growth is a big part of it!

I love some of the things that Tim Stevens, Executive Pastor from Granger Community Church says on his blog "Leading Smart". A while back he wrote an entry called, "A crowd is Not a Church". Not everything in this blog post is directly Freedom House's philosophy but there some important things to glean from it. Here's most of it:

Here is how the conversation typically goes:

Life-long Church Attendee: "Your church is pretty shallow. Felt like it was a show. I need something deeper."

Me: "Really? That surprises me, cuz' I've been here for twenty years and that's not my experience. How long have you been attending?"

Life-long Church Attendee: "I've been to three weekend services."

Me: "Then you haven't experienced our church yet. You've just scratched the surface."

For some reason, people who have attended church for many years will come to a weekend service and believe they have visited our church. I tell people all the time: The weekend is not the church. It is a crowd. We are doing everything we can to draw the biggest crowd we can--and then turn it into a church.

Many times people will ask me how big our church is. I typically say, "Do you mean how many are attending each weekend?" Those are two different questions. We may have 5,000 attending on a given weekend--but that's not our church. That's just a crowd. Determining the size of a church is a bit more difficult. Is it membership? The number of people serving? Those giving? Those attending "deeper" Bible studies? Perhaps a bigger question is--does it even matter?

Here is what I believe: We are at our best when we focus our weekend services squarely on those who are at the beginning of their spiritual journey, and focus our discipleship on those who are further along in their faith. Yes, there is some cross-over, but when we get mixed up in our focus--that's when we begin to flounder. That's when the purpose gets lost, the vision gets unclear and our effectiveness is reduced.


The "your church is shallow" or "I'm not connected" or "I don't know anyone" criticisms are stunningly common in church leadership pretty much anywhere you go. You could be the caringest, deepest, dang group around and you'd get cards and letters. It can frustrating to hear sometimes because of the amount of time, work, energy and passion that you put into it... your friends are putting into it too... and the limitless opportunities that are just waiting for anyone who chooses to serve along and let the unity party of a Sunday translate into everyday action.


Those who decide to really experience a church are the ones who choose to eat meals with each other, walk the parade routes together, give up their Friday night's to hang with teenagers, have the courage to approach other people at a prayer service and OFFER to pray instead of sitting and waiting for someone to come to them. Or... throw whatever it is that you have inside you on the pile and say... "I'm all in". That's a church that can do some damage in a city AND meet each others needs.

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