Southland Christian Church in Lexington did a great thing this past weekend… hosting over 1000 physically and mentally disabled (I hope that’s the right politically correct terminology) to what they called a ‘Jesus Prom’.
How great is this?
From an article at the Christian Post:
Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., held an event for the mentally and physically disabled community dubbed “Jesus Prom” over the past weekend that featured a night of celebration and compassion dedicated to those in attendance.
The annual free event drew 1,100 people decked in prom attire for the dinner, dance and night of fellowship. Pastor Brewster McLeod initiated the idea years ago when he served as the youth pastor with the purpose to reach those outside the walls of the church building and “value people on the margins of society.”
According to Justin Meeker, communications director at Southland Christian Church, McLeod’s vision for Jesus Prom is based on Luke 14:12-14, a verse about inviting “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” to a banquet.
“Here’s a guy that truly believes everyone is as good as everyone else,” said Steve Flairty, a columnist writer who attended the event, according to the Kentucky Kernel. “Brewster wants people with developmental disabilities to experience the same kind of activities that everyone else can.”
Each year, the event is organized by 1,500 to 1,800 volunteers who escort the attendees throughout activities that include photography and games, while police and medical attention is on hand in case a special needs individual needs assistance. Typically, the megachurch transforms into a different theme venue, with this year being “Happy Days,” which was reflected through poodle-skirt dresses worn by some attendees.
Hats off to Southland! Great job in being the hands and feet of Jesus to your community.
Jesus is smiling.
Author Chip Bell recently released a new book entitled The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service. The purpose of the book: how to create an experience that causes your customers to ‘swoon, smile, and sing your praises.’
One reader, Becky Robinson, related her experience about visiting NewSpring Church, after reading the book.
You have to read this unsolicited article that could have been written (in today’s internet age) by any person about any church.
According to Becky… NewSpring hit it out of the park when she was a first time visitor.
What can you learn reading Becky’s comments?
And what would Becky have written if she would have visited YOUR church that Sunday?
Carey Nieuwhof admits that most leaders he knows WANT their church to grow. They WANT to reach unchurched people.
But few are.
Here are some reasons why, according to Carey:
1. Your desire to reach unchurched people is an intention, not a strategy. You’re basically doing what you’ve always been doing and hoping for different results. Wanting people to attend and creating a church unchurched people love to attend are two very different things. If you haven’t made radical changes to how you do church, don’t expect radically different results.
2. You’ve ended up in No-Man’s Land by trying to please everyone. Your church is too contemporary to make insiders happy and your approach is still too dated, irrelevant and unengaging to capture the imagination of unchurched people. You’ve made as many changes as you think you can navigate without alienating your existing membership, but not brought about nearly enough change to really engage outsiders. You are in no-man’s land. In an attempt to please everyone, you have pleased no one.
3. Your real vision is about you. On the wall, your vision is about Jesus, the Kingdom and the world, but down the hall your reality about how to keep Mr X from writing yet another angry letter and how to appease Ms X who says your church just isn’t deep enough. You say it’s about others, but you spend all your time on insiders. Keep that up, and no matter what your mission and vision say, your church will have a vision no bigger than its (contentious) members.
4. Your people don’t know any unchurched people. This can be a real problem. How can people who attend your church invite unchurched people if they don’t know any? One of the ways we combat that where I serve at Connexus (where 60% of our growth is from unchurched people) is to offer very little mid week programming—mostly just community groups for people to gather in at most one night a week. We want people to be at home and be a family, invite friends over, get to know their neighbours, play on community sports teams and love the cities and communities they live in. It’s a lot easier to invite unchurched friends to church when you have some. Most churches keep their ‘salt’ inside the box…it never actually touches any food.
But wait… there’s more… 3 more reasons Carey sites, to be exact. And you can read them here…
QUESTION: What is holding YOUR CHURCH back from reaching the unchurched?
I thought this was insightful from Lee Powell, pastor of Cedar Creek Church (a GREAT church, by the way) in Toledo, OH.
He was recently asked by Leadership Network’s Eric Swanson why people came to Christ. Lee’s response:
Eric Swanson writes:
“Cedar Creek is pretty intentional about tracking why people come to Christ and most everybody comes to Christ through those avenues.into the kingdom. Cedar Creek is an outlier in evangelism. Last year they saw over a thousand people come to faith.”
Eric, along with my colleague Brent Dolfo will be launching a two-year initiative on Evangelism in 2014. If you’re interested you can check out more information here…
QUESTION: Why do YOU think people come to Christ? Do you agree with Lee’s assessment?
Penn Jillette (of the famous Penn & Teller team) is a smart guy and a devout atheist. But this quote shows a level of insight that many of us have lost in the church: ”How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
Watch the video:
Phil Cooke says:
Politics, the prosperity gospel, movie boycotts, wacky Christian media efforts, and more have only marginalized the Christian community in the eyes of the people we’re supposed to be reaching. But if we would put our money (and time) where our mouth is and impact the local communities around us, people would notice.
Christians certainly benefit personally from faith in Christ, but that’s not our only goal. We should always be ready to share that faith in tangible ways with others so they benefit.
A move in the right direction?
Carey Nieuwhof writes:
Almost every church I know says they want to reach unchurched people. But few are actually doing it.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that many churches don’t really understand unchurched people…
And part of the problem is that our model of church is designed to reach and helped churched people, not unchurched people. Churches haven’t embraced change deeply enough.
Here are 9 signs your church is ready to embrace unchurched people:
1. Your main services engage teenagers.
2. People who attend your church actually know unchurched people.
3. Your attenders are prepared to be non-judgmental.
4. You’re good with questions.
5. You’re honest about your struggles.
6. You have easy, obvious, strategic and helpful steps for new people.
7. You’ve dumped all assumptions.
8. Your ‘outreach’ isn’t just a program.
9. You are flexible and adaptable.
These are just the points. Carey lays each point out with some good explanation here.
I agree with Carey’s premise that most every church wants to reach the unchurched.
I also agree with him that most don’t do it (even though many trick themselves into THINKING they’re doing it).
How does YOUR church reach the unchurched? What recommendations would you give to other churches.
In other words, “What’s working for YOU” in this area?
The New World Gospel Presentation app, created by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, is a creative way to share the gospel right from your smartphone or tablet.
Based on material from True Story by James Choung, this free app helps you illustrate the main points of the gospel message by drawing four “worlds” on your screen.
Suggested dialogue and Scripture references are included for each world to help you explain the gospel as you draw.
The opportunity to make a decision for Jesus Christ and join his mission to heal the world is presented at the end; a suggested prayer is included.
What do you think? Could you see yourself using an app like this in your personal evangelism?
Mark Morford writes:
Six percent of Americans believe in unicorns. Thirty-six percent believe in UFOs. A whopping 24 percent believe dinosaurs and man hung out together. Eighteen percent still believe the sun revolves around the Earth. Nearly 30 percent believe cloud computing involves… actual clouds. A shockingly sad 18 percent, to this very day, believe the president is a Muslim.
Question: How do you reach someone with the Gospel that believes in unicorns or that cloud computing involves actual clouds?
Warren Bird writes:
If Park Community Church in downtown Chicago, IL, was going to achieve its mission of helping transform the surrounding 200-plus micro-neighborhoods, the church’s leadership team had an ego-swallowing hurdle to clear. They had to be willing to give up imprinting their church’s name on what they did.
As the young, affluent congregation founded an organization that partners with other churches, community development agencies, schools and non-profits for the common good of the city, they named it simply Renew Chicago. They also renamed one of Renew Chicago’s original components, a city-wide service project started by Park Church from “Park Service Day,” which was named after themselves, to a broader “For One Chicago”—an event that draws hundreds across the city for transformational service projects.
“As churches, we can be territorial,” says Jackson Crum, lead pastor of the multisite Park Community Church. “Sadly, we all want something that’s good to be our idea. But to renew our city we had to give that up and see where we could find common ground with other churches and organizations.
“We decided if we need the credit in order to be engaged, it’s too much about us,” he explains. “If we need to put our name on it to be engaged, it’s too much ours.”
Park Church did more than remove its name from the initiative it founded. It also shares leadership and decision making with others. It’s not afraid to take a back seat—on stage or in the planning stage. As it hosts planning sessions and other summit meetings with Renew Chicago participants, it invites other churches and organizations to take positions of leadership.
“It’s an old saying, but you can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit,” Jackson says. “That attitude really resonates with our young crowd. They’re all for getting it done vs. getting the credit. It’s something we graciously backed into, but it’s become part of our language and part of our culture.”
While Renew Chicago is funded and staffed by Park Church, they work extensively with other Chicagoland congregations, including The Moody Bible Church and Trinity United Church of Christ(President Barack Obama’s former church) – anybody who has an interest in renewing Chicago.
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