I confess, I am an addict… a church addict. I’ve been going since I was 16. Church didn’t save me: Jesus Christ did—and is. Although church people have been some of my closer friends, I’ve been hurt deeply by them. Church people have wrecked my reputation with rumor and gossip, judged me and assassinated my character in the community. Many more have simply turned away and treated me like a stranger. The reality is, although most church people would claim to believe in Jesus, they aren’t any more like him for the professed belief, and are no worse or better than anybody else in the world. Jesus had the most difficulty with the church people of his day (synagogue people, they could be called), but he still attended and participated every week.
I’ve been in church every Sunday morning for over 30 years. I think I’ve missed twice since I made a commitment to Christ and got baptized. That changes today. I’m not going to church this morning. It’s 6:15 A. M. and I thought I’d sleep-in today, but I’m wide awake, going through withdrawals at the prospect of not being in church. You see, I’m the pastor of our congregation, and I’ve challenged everyone to stop playing church, to stop (just) going to church, and to start being the church.
We are going to try something today, and throughout the summer. I’ve called it The UnChurch Experiment. I told everyone we won’t have church on Sunday morning this summer. Instead, I told them, be the church to the unchurched by shining your light where the unchurched go. Then we’ll gather Sunday at 5:30 P. M. to share our stories and worship.
Now, when we started our church, there was no morning worship service, but I still met with our most dedicated people for brunch and Bible study during that time. With this UnChurch Experiment, though, I won’t be teaching, preaching or even attending church. It’s unsettling. That’s part of the purpose. We need to take risks, shine our light out in the world, and be deliberate about sharing the Gospel with people who have less exposure to it. We need to bring Jesus to people who have less opportunity to hear and receive. Sounds good. I’m still going through withdrawals, though.
Here are the ten assignments I’ve given to our people for Sunday mornings.
1. Invite some unchurched friends and/or family to brunch, ask if you may pray for their needs.
2. Go somewhere fun and find an unchurched person to check out Lifewell Worship
3. Do a service project with your friends and/or family.
4. Relax and relate with your family: no electronic devices or TV, just face to face contact.
5. Read your Bible for one hour without interruption, then post to a social network about what you learned. Invite people on your network to Lifewell Worship.
6. Knock on a neighbor’s door and share something with them. Invite them to check out Lifewell Worship.
7. Make a video to share the Gospel, i.e., interview some people about a relevant topic that may be used as a catalyst for sharing the Gospel. Tell them it will be played at a Lifewell gathering.
8. Walk or ride bikes at a park near your house and meet others. Invite them to Lifewell Worship.
9. Walk the ROC neighborhood (an area where there are many apartments) and invite people to Lifewell UnChurch Worship at 5:30p.m.
10. Volunteer somewhere. Shine your light and tell everyone about Jesus. Invite people to Lifewell Worship.
So, it’s Sunday morning: time to be the church.