The New "Church" Model...  

Posted by Matt

...I am so pumped.

I sat in on a Bible study this morning and a certain pastor who joined us was discussing the possible future of his church and the proto-vision I've had for a really cool church falls right in line with what this guy would like to do.

1. Get a building without a steeple. Steeples aren't necessary, nor are they Biblical. Is it bad to have one? No. It's nice to have one. Do you NEED a steeple to have a church? No. It's nice to not have one (they DO cost money, and really...what purpose do they serve?).

2. Plant your church in a warehouse. My current church does this, and despite the poor signage out front advertising the church location and the terribly unattractive exterior of the warehouse, the ability to renovate more inexpensively, efficiently, and flexibly is awesome. It's also cheaper to renovate, light, run appropriate AV wires, paint, and build/tear down walls than in a "permanent" traditional churchy-church building.

3. Aim to have a church campus that serves in its main services between 500-1500 people. Beyond that and you run into the same traffic flow (foot and auto) that small stadiums experience. People like to get into church easily and out of church easily.

4. Expand to multiple campuses. Man, I'm so intrigued and refreshed by the campus model that Saddleback, Mars Hill, Northpoint, and Newspring employ. Having a "main" campus that either provides a video feed or recording of the head pastor's teaching, combined with live music and on-campus pastors at the satellite campuses is really cool.

5. Focus on communication through technology. Sorry, old people. This is an age of e-communication. That doesn't mean people don't leave their houses and only communicate with each other like some Asimov-ian sci-fi story gone bad; it means that, with technology and new software, people are able to keep in better and more constant contact with each other: if I want to update all my friends with how the building of my new house is coming, I can take a pic of my house on my phone, text it out to all of my friends, and hear back from them, all in the span of minutes. I can post video of this Sunday's service and friends and family in other states and even countries can see it on Youtube within minutes. People who can't leave their house or hospitals due to medical limitations can now access profitable Christian teaching and material online, through their iPhone, iTunes, email, blogs, and Twitters. Go tell it on the mountain? Shoot...go tell it on the INTERWEB!!11!1!

6. Streamline the costs of physical "churchy" church, serve the teaching and counseling needs of as many people, and be able to spend more money and resources on helping the community--wow. I wonder if Jesus would be a fan...well, I think He would, especially if the church in question focused on Him, loved Him, preached Him, served Him, chased after Him, and consulted and praised Him in all. The pastor I was listening to regarding his vision sounded pretty in-tune and Biblical to me.

I can't wait to see this church take that next step and emerge as a reformed version of a renewed Christian paradigm. One with as much knowledge as ever, but with more heart and awe for the name of Jesus.

Add into that, some of the things that Kenny and I have chewed on (and boyyyy, will a lot of Bible-thumpers, pale-priests, and scared old ladies get mad at some of these suggestions!):

--get a taco/burrito restaurant to set up shop in the corner of the church building, open to a church lounge with tv's, couches, and chairs, opened during normal business hours.

--sell/offer coffee at a working coffee bar

--offer a working Christian library/research/store that doesn't just sell Thomas Kinkade - Kirk Kameron - Michael W. Smith stuff. Those are nice guys and I'm sure we'll party with them in Heaven. But I think Mark Batterson, Donald Miller, and Marc Driscoll have something to offer people looking for reliable Christian answers, too.

--an ATM so you can get cash out for tithe, to spend at the taco joint, or so you can go out to lunch after church (the church wouldn't charge an ATM fee as a service to the people at the church).

...oh, I know. Go ahead and quote the part where Jesus got pissed off and tossed the money changers and dove-merchants out, saying that they'd turned his Father's house into a "den of thieves."

...and I'll gladly throw your self-righteous use of God's Word back in your face. Jesus rightly called it a den of thieves because the dudes He was mad at were STEALING AND CHEATING. Fair trade of money for food (at good prices and quality) is cool. Helping people get access to their money (at no cost to them, through a free ATM) is a service. The money changers were cheating people through fees, interest scams, etc.

I'd like to make the new, emerging Christian church of the 21st century a little more faithful to the days of Acts 2, when we (the Church) experienced more "favor of the people." Where did they have church back then? In people's houses (small groups) and in the temple and in the market places (hello? Places to corporately worship and places where people could chill out, play some bocce ball, and eat some tacos!).

I'd love to be part of a church where not only Christians liked to be, but nonChristians did, too. NonChristians are our target recipients, not Christians. Let's show nonChristians a good time being had by Christians. Let's show them you don't have to be a courdoroy jump-suit-wearing, get-a-haircut-hippy, Davey-and-Goliath-watching robot in order for Jesus to love you.

Let's start by playing Guitar Hero at church (thanks, Kirk at Avalon!).


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I'm just a suburban guy. I wish I were hardcore, I wish I were tougher, I wish I listened to cooler music, I wish I weren't a lush, I wish I had big muscles, cooler hair, and some rad tattoos, I wish I were smarter, cooler, and sexier, I wish I knew how to play guitar. Instead, I'm just a band geek, power-nerd wannabe, WoW gamer, 30 year-old dad and husband. I play french horn, I read the Vampire Chronicles as well as the Chronic-WHAT?!-les of Narnia, I like movies, but not all the snobby-artsy ones I'm "supposed" to see, and a good meal to me is Miller Lite with chicken patties topped in barbecue sauce. ...oh...and I have a big mouth.


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