Monday, June 16, 2008

Is your church "unusual"?

Just got off the phone with a lady from out of town calling to find out our Sunday times for worship. That's not unusual. Being in a resort community means we get lots of out of town guests every week.

"What time is your Sunday morning service?"
"We have two: 9 and 11:00."

"Are you a relatively large church?"
"Relatively large is a relative term!"
"How many attend a service?"
"Between 2 and 3 hundred." (To some that's big. To other's that's tiny.)

"Are you having a Bible school this summer?"

"What time is your Sunday evening service?"
"We don't have one."
"You don't have one?"
"No, ma'am."

"How about a midweek service?"
"We don't have one of those either."

She was struggling with the curveballs I had just thrown her way.

"That's unusual for a Baptist church. I would have expected it from a (another denomination judged by some as being full of lifeless churches) church."
"We're an 'unusual' Baptist church!"

You know what she was implying? Me, too. People and their stereotypes. Does the number of times a church has some kind of "service" necessarily indicate the depth or breadth of their ministry?

I think I'd rather our church be "unusual". It seems to be working wonders in peoples' lives here.

Oh, yeah. She said, "I'll see you Sunday." Why am I skeptical about that?


Jen Wilson said...


I've been lurking at your blog since you were doing updates for Nathan.

I totally understand where you're coming from. I work at a church in BC, Canada (Administrative Assistant). I've heard and received criticism about many aspects of our service, worship, speaker, time ... etc. And I agree, it's all stereotypes. In my opinion? If what you're doing is Biblical and is for the glory of God, not man, then you've got a good thing going.

My church sounds similar to yours. If it's "unusual", then so be it!

TerryKM said...

I more inclined to think she won't be there Sunday either, but watch her show up and say she read your blog.

Paul J. said...

What? She didn't ask you what you wear when you preach?

Tricia said...

I completely agree. I have been involved in churchs that were "the typical baptist church" with all the services included. Now we are ministering in a church with one service and mid week bible studies. It is a very young church, only 4 years old. I love what God is doing here at our church and adding a service would not make us "better or more spiritual."

Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate your blog and your fresh perspective on walking with Christ.

Tricia :)

Roxanne said...

Wow. She was so into numbers, too bad she didn't ask the right questions!

"With a membership of only about 150, how many of your people have traveled at their own expense to countries all over the world on mission teams to bring the gospel and build homes for those who might have had neither without Nags Head Church?"

"How many people in your community attend events arranged to invite them to do something they enjoy, to get them to feel comfortable at a church, to allow them to see how much you care for them, without asking them to give back??"

"How many lives are changed because the message is easy to understand and based on the Bible, without exception or apology???"

"How many people all over the world have 'tuned in' to watch your church family and your earthly family trust God in a delicate, passionately-lived-a-minute-at-a-time, true story?"

Now the answers to THOSE questions are the truly staggering numbers, for a little church family like us!

CFHusband said...

I really hope she reads this AND comes on Sunday. That would be fun to see!

Kristen said...

Hi! I belong or attend I guess since I'm not a member presay a baptist...anyhow, my church doesnt have evening services either and wendesday nights are for prayer meeting, and different bible studies then as well. We also have an hour of adult sunday school between services. Not sure if that is normal or not...but I like it.

Bill and Peggy said...

What, NO Wednesday night service??? One of the biggest lectures/sermons/chewing outs I ever received was from one Rick Lawronsen because I "skipped" Wednesday night "church" to attend a High School basketball game or something. Times, they are a changin". God bless you brother,

Roxanne said...

Sounds like wise ol' Rick has changed with the times! Here's the secret: We have our own Bibles and we've been taught how to pray without ceasing. A few years ago we stopped meeting every Wednesday night for a "programmed" prayer time. That seemed to free us up to be involved in things we were specifically gifted to do: minister on Saturday at the nursing home, feed the lifeguards on Thursday, host a neighborhood group in our home on Tuesday to connect with people from our church and from the community on a more personal and deep level, be available for local and regional emergency response when others need our help.
I'm not saying Wednesday night prayer meetings choke these things out in other churches. But... this is how our church family is shaped. It's not about us. It's about doing things with our time that blesses people outside our church walls. We're still praying on Wednesday nights and we're still studying the Word! We just don't do it in pews anymore :)

Rick Lawrenson said...

Let me add that corporate prayer is a good thing. It's an important part of our small groups (meeting throughout the week) which results in far more believers in our context praying together than we ever did on a Wednesday night.

And who created Wednesday night or Sunday night as time for the church to meet? Acts 2 says they met "daily" and "from house to house". Wanna be biblical?

But as I've posted in the past, you find what works in your culture and context and go with it.

For example, our youth group recently switched from meeting on Wednesday nights to meeting on Sunday nights. Why? There's no competition on Sunday nights for students' time with school activities.

In another culture/time schools actually avoided planning sports events on Wednesday nights because they knew it conflicted with churches. Now the church is nowhere on the school calendar's radar screen. And the church that says, "Well, we won't move to another night. That's 'compromise' is also not going to reach young people outside of the church.

Bill, you're a relic. Deal with it!

Brenda said...

To continue OBX ROX's line of questioning:
"What percentage of the members are actually involved in ministry, so that they are not just consumers, but contributors?"

"How do you equip your members, so they can grow in their faith, and be self-feeders of the Word of God, and how many have "graduated" from the NHCU classes, spending 15 or more hours of their time because they want to learn, so they can share?"

"Is your church growing? How many babies, toddlers and kids are there, and how many young families do they represent?"

"How many of your new members are disgruntled "church hoppers", and how many are new believers?"

The list could go on and on. We are part of an "unusual" church, because we all know that "It's not about you (us)", it's about showing the God we love and serve to people who don't yet know Him. And now NHC's influence is being felt, not just in this community, but all over the world. That's something that more planning and more meetings could not ever have accomplished. It's a God thing and all of us realize that. I, for one, am blessed to be a part of the NHC family.

Faceless said...

but how fair is it that you take an entire blog post to criticize her questioning?

As she took time to "stereotype" you, you are taking the same amount of time to judge her.

I think she had every right to ask the questions. I'd imagine it's pretty typical for people accustomed to their hometown church to seek information regarding their vacation church.

Eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Roxanne said...

Dear Faceless,
I apologize on behalf of Brenda and myself for sounding like we were blasting the caller for her questions. The price of being passionate about what we believe might be that we take opportunities to talk about it when we see an opening. I thought that's what blogs are for, to take an idea and chew on it and toss it back and forth, until a new topic comes up! We do hope the visitor chooses to come this Sunday and she will be welcomed with open arms, coffee and a doughnut, and if we somehow knew she was the one who asked the questions, we wouldn't even mention it!

Bill and Peggy said...

Wow, looks like I struck a nerve. Relic? I just made a comment and you assume a lot. However, I will admit, I find it interesting that the church just "rolls over" because of "competition". Soccer and softball are taking over Sundays as well, should we just give up that last hour as well? To be honest Rick, its hard to find a church that even has a Wednesday night service anymore, funny though, mine does and I don't attend very often. I agree, back in the day, there was too much "church" and it actually distracted from many families but I am afraid the pendulum has swung too far back. One hour a week is not enough for me personally. I wish I had more confidence in your rational but, frankly, I am not seeing the church MORE involved in the community but often the people ARE much busier. Trust me, your church is more the norm than the exception these days, at least in Tulsa and Colorado Springs, (the Willow Creek model, I suppose) I'm not convinced we are better off, though. I still love you though, Crotchity old man.

Roxanne said...

Gosh, Bill. With under 200 members serving almost 600 in attendance each Sunday, it's been a long time since any of us were there for just "an hour a week!"

I must be doing a poor job here of communicating what's really going on. We're serving during our Sunday services as well as the outside missions mentioned above,and praying and studying during our connection groups and during our "alone with God time" daily. We serve as an act of worship. We don't believe worship only happens at 11am on Sundays or any other particular time of the week. At the risk of sounding confrontational or argumentative, our church (AKA the people of our church body) is very involved in the community and our pastors (especially Rick) are very visible members of the community who are respected in the venues they use as their mission fields here. We really think that's what it means to go into the world with the good news.
Thanks for listenin'! Hope I didn't muddy things up even more!

Rick Lawrenson said...

Looks like a little more careful reading of the posting here and realizing that cyberspace communication often leaves gaps would help.

First,(@ faceless) I didn't criticize the caller's questions. They were good questions. I didn't judge her based on them at all. Read the post again.

Where my "judgment" came was when she compared us to a church of another denomination that she deems less than committed to the standards she has for what makes a good church. I knew exactly what she meant by that comment. She expected more from a Baptist church.

Then for Bill, the "relic" comment was in jest because you can remember back so far! The preceding comments weren't directed at you at all. Different paragraph. Sorry if it hit you in a way not intended.

As for rolling over...If your goal is to reach unchurched teenagers, and you try to draw them to church on a night when they have sports functions going on and they're athletes, cheerleaders, etc., how successful are you going to be? It's not rolling over, it's being wise and understanding your times.

And I don't disagree with the one hour a week not being enough. That's why our church offers many other opportunities throughout the week to gather with believers for prayer, Bible study, fellowship, outreach, etc.

I can't speak as to your experience and what you see churches doing/not doing. You're in CO. We're in NC. The lady who called was in GA. But we work very hard at being salt in the world and a light to the world. The only way to do that is to get out into the community.

Bill and Peggy said...

My bad,;-)

Rick Lawrenson said...

You're not bad, Bill. You're great. Thanks for being there. You make me proud.