Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Random Church Tour of '08

On the way back from Molly and Aber's, Dave and I decided to stop at Willow Creek Community Church right outside of Chicago. Dave had never been there, and I hadn't been since before their new building campaign. 

  • It's big - TOO big. When your church is in its design phase and you start talking about escalators, you need to back that truck up and re-evaluate your situation. Escalators?
  • They're proactive with guests. We had people saying hello in the lobby and a very friendly usher talk to us at length.
  • They're obsessed with growth. The main pastor talked about filling their new place to capacity. They also planted a church in downtown Chicago.
  • They put on a MAJOR production. I can't even describe it. It makes Grace seem like a Sunday service at the local monastery.
  • They have multiple campuses, even with that huge facility. It was probably 80% full at at the 5:30pm Saturday service.
Then, we stopped at Granger Community Church in Granger (South Bend), Indiana. 

  • They don't pressure guests. Heck, they don't even acknowledge them. I stood in the lobby looking up at the ceiling with a confused face for literally five minutes while Dave was getting coffee and no one said a word to me. When we tried to turn in a guest card at the end of the service, the info desk guy looked as though we had handed him a live grenade. "Ummm...sure...I guess...yeah...I can take this."
  • They value the younger generation. I knew it as soon as I saw the tube slides for kids to enter their lower level classrooms. I fully believed it after I read it in the bulletin and heard the pastor talk about it.
  • They believe in innovation, but not for it's own sake. They innovate so people will be able to understand that Jesus loves them. I know that because the Pastor said it in his sermon.
  • They value creativity. Everything from their building design to the double projectors pointed at each screen told me that they let their people dream.
  • They want people to love Jesus. That is the #1 thing I took away from the service.

What does this mean for me, as a Christ follower, and my church? I don't fully know, but I have some thoughts:
  • Jesus' renown needs to be our #1 priority (and people need to KNOW that).
  • We need to value the younger generations. They might be the future, but the future is now. We need to get on it. 
  • It's OK to be creative and use different art forms to connect with God. 
  • I've always struggled with my quality of work, but honestly, visiting both of these churches made me realize that I am actually a contender. I know that's a weird way to put it. I felt encouraged that I didn't see anything that I didn't already do, or couldn't do.  The same God who gives these people inspiration is available to us. Why wouldn't it be just as good?
  • Every community is different. Each community is made up of people who are different. We can't (and shouldn't) try to duplicate something being done without making sure it fits "us."


j*amy said...

heheh escalators. and the story about the live grenade guest card is funny. maybe you should have told them they need a connections cafe. :)

Anonymous said...

Good observations. I think what you said about copying others is so important. Abraham wrote about that awhile ago, because he was at a Resurgence conference and one of the speakers was like, "You can't be Mark Driscoll. Not all of you are called to preach the way he does," (not an exact quote). But anyway, each church body is so different that copying will eventually just make you fall flat if it's not Spirit-led for each individual situation.

We loved having you guys here and want you to come back.

Anonymous said...

Once the church Chris and I used to attend aquired "jumbotrons" in the sactuary we knew it was time to move on. It became WAY too much. Simplicity is key!