Monday, January 16, 2012

Behold: A new, indigenous church in my county

I attended the church closest to my home yesterday. It's within walking distance if I cared to hike a couple of hundred yards through the woods in my Sunday best which consists of my normal Sunday attire - dressy sans tie. I haven't worn a tie since my last Sunday preaching.

This church is informal, somewhat south of loose and casual. It is (gasp!) a new but  traditional church. They have a piano the likes of which I haven't heard (not good) and an electronic organ straight from some funeral home, tremolo and all, making for a combination that probably shouldn't be heard in public.

The church has a young, lay music leader. He has no goatee, spiked hair, tatoos, or trendy clothes (bluejeans and rumpled shirt). He sings well but doesn't lead music, not a waving arm to be found. In fact, after the pianist and organist play the intro to the hymns he inexplicably but effectively cuts the tempo in half. I've never sang "He lives" at such a glacial pace.

The congregation didn't seem to be bothered by any of that. They sang heartily,  applauded, and enjoyed it all.

The pastor is old school. He immediately jacks up his decibel level when approaching the pulpit and stays there except for occasional louder forays. He used an outline that was effectively hidden. He did a good job preaching topically from four or five Bible books.

It should be labeled a new church although they were in another location before they bought property and built a building by me.

They manifestly haven't read a syllable of Barna nor the latest breathless study about how we're losing Millenials, Busters, Xers and whatever elsers. Evidently, no expert told them that to succeed, they had to drop all that old music, God talk, and churchy programs.

They don't have a website or do slick mailouts. The concept of marketing hasn't arrived at this church. They still have "Baptist" and "Church" in their name.

This church isn't cool.

But they are thriving, ministering, caring, and folks attending seem to enjoy the awful piano (the pianist is very good), the traditional worship with hymns, and the old-fashioned preaching. They have plenty of young couples (you know, the ones who don't want to attend a church like their momma's), babies, kids, teens, middle aged, a few seniors. They are multi-racial.

I get slick church planting mailouts and proposals for the latest non-church church our county doesn't have but desperately needs. These usually make a point to say they aren't churchy, don't bore people, and aren't your momma's church. They are marketed towards the avant garde, the cool, the cutting edge, haute ecclesia. The pastor looks like he wants to be an incarnation of Driscoll or Young Junior or some other non-churchy church rock star. They would love to shock the community by a sex sermon series, cussin', chewin', and spittin' too, I suppose. Cool.

If I had to describe the church next door to me I'd call it an indigenous church for our county, the kind of church plant that consultants would declare couldn't possibly make it but one that has been embraced, welcomed and that is successful. They didn't do the research other than to think that the best way to be a new church is to preach Jesus, have a desire to see folks saved, feed the hungry, minister in the community, and invite their friends to church - old school stuff like that.

It's working just fine.


Gary said...

Old School works pretty well, when you are enthusiastic about it. "Widows" and "orphans" have new meaning these days, but we are called in a straightforward manner to take care of them, along with feeding empty bellies.

God is most definitely Good.

Have a great week William.


Anonymous said...

This is a great post. Jesus said He would build His Church. He's been doing it for 2,000 years. I believe there is such hope for all the "non-cool" churches that continue preaching Jesus, loving people and making disciples.

Bill Pfister
Taylors, SC

Gary said...


Put down the paint roller long enough today to post this. Read it this summer - topical.

Have a great week!


William said...

Yep. I read it already, Gary.

Liked it.