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52 Churches

Something’s Missing at This Church

Discussing Church 16

This nondenominational church meets in a public school auditorium.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #16

1. Renting space saves the church from purchasing and maintaining a facility. 

Whether you own your building or rent space, how can you maximize your outreach and better impact your community?

2. They use more technology than we’ve seen so far. When not displaying song lyrics, Bible verses, or clips, they project the pastor’s video on a large screen behind him. 

How much technology does your church use during your services? Does it add to or detract from the experience?

3. Aside from a greeter and the two pastors saying “Hi,” no one talks to us. We learn that people wearing green nametags are available to answer questions. After the service I spot a man with a green nametag, but he rushes by. 

Are you and other people at your church so preoccupied or busy that you overlook and ignore people?

4. The leadership at this nondenominational church does the right things to foster spiritual connection, but the people aren’t following. They’re passive, coming to church, doing church, and then leaving. 

Is it the paid staff’s job to welcome visitors, or yours? What needs to change?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

A Fresh Sunday Experience (Visiting Church #38)

The church meets in the all-purpose room of a local school. The atmosphere is casual, with people milling about, talking, sipping coffee, and munching snacks. With all ages represented, we see many kids present. Jeans and t-shirts abound.

The church meets in the all-purpose room of a local school. The atmosphere is casual, with people milling about, talking, sipping coffee, and munching snacks. With all ages represented, we see many kids present. Jeans and t-shirts abound.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

A team of four (guitar, bass, drums, and vocals) lead the singing. As a special treat, three members of a ballet company worship with us in dance. Ballet and guitars strike me as a disparate pairing, but the result is beautiful, as they worship God with movement.

Though some may disagree, dance belongs in church. It adds depth to our praise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

For the past several weeks, we’ve seen traditionally dressed ministers give traditionally sounding sermons; I yearn for something fresh. Today’s pastor and message accomplish that, offering a much-appreciated reprieve from the tired routine.

The pastor doesn’t stand on the stage behind a pulpit, but is on our level using a music stand. His style is accessible and calm. I feel at peace.

“Isn’t the story of Jesus’ birth absurd?” he dares to ask. This isn’t a rhetorical device or a rational denial, but a challenge to deeply consider all the Bible offers and the ramifications of its narrative.

Instead of focusing on the familiar and skipping the confusing, he digs into the perplexing passages of the Bible – and encourages us to do the same. At the touch of his iPad, he displays the verses for us to read on the screen stationed to his right.

The kingdom of God starts now, today. He encourages us to ask tough questions about the Bible and God, inviting us to journey with them towards Jesus.

Afterwards we stay to talk about family and faith.

God provided what I needed today; he refreshed my soul.

[Read about Church #37 and Church #39, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #38.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Who Needs a Church Building? (Visiting Church #25)

The church for this Sunday meets in a school, just like church #16. They don’t have their own church building. Their service time is later than most, starting at eleven, likely to allow time for setup.

We arrive at the school and see a temporary church sign by the road, confirming we’re at the right place. However, once we park, there’s no indication of which door to enter. After making a wrong assumption, someone redirects us to the right entrance.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

Inside is a team of greeters; they are most welcoming, taking time for conversation with us. People are milling about and many interact with us. Eventually someone announces, “We’re about ready to begin,” and we move to find our seats.

A couple we know invites us to sit with them. This is a welcoming gesture. Despite knowing people at the majority of the two dozen churches we’ve visited, having someone ask us to sit with them is a first.

Though we’re used to sitting alone as we visit churches and don’t need this hospitable act to put us at ease, a typical visitor would likely find it most comforting.

After the service’s official conclusion, there’s time to hang out. We linger and talk. Eventually things are dismantled and stowed, returning the facility for use as a school on Monday. They’re fortunate to have a place to store their gear on site, eliminating the need to haul it away each week.

Even so, there is much to do, and despite many hands helping, it takes some time to complete.

Though renting space to have church at a school requires extra effort on Sunday, they save the expense of a mortgage and hassle of church building maintenance. This allows for more investment in community outreach and engagement.

[Read about Church #24 and Church #26, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #25.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

A Different Venue (Visiting Church #16)

The church we visited this Sunday is a nondenominational gathering that meets in a public school auditorium. In some parts of the United States it’s unheard of for a church to meet in a government building, but in our area, it is not.

Though some would overreach, citing a need for “separation of church and state,” I see this as a wise way to increase the use of public buildings, generate revenue for the school, and save the church from needing to purchase and maintain a facility.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

It’s an older building but with an updated auditorium complete with theater seating, movable armrests, and cup holders—beverages and snacks are a prominent part of their gathering. The auditorium has a sloped floor for easy viewing.

The main level seats about 225 and is mostly full; I’m not sure about the balcony.

Casually dressed, people of all ages fill the place. The worship team is much like what we’ve seen at other contemporary services, as is the “teaching,” though it’s more informal. The pastor sits on a stool while speaking, weaves pop culture into his message, and banters a bit with some people in the front.

There’s more AV technology in play than we’ve seen so far. They use cameras to project the pastor’s image on the large screen behind him. If song lyrics or Bible verses aren’t being displayed, a shot of the pastor is.

Three stationary cameras mounted on the front face of the balcony provide views from different angles. Though they lack the ability to pan or zoom, the cameras are a nice addition and I suspect provide a welcomed alternate view from the balcony.

There are many things I like about this church, the service, the pastor, and the message, but I’m most impressed with their use of technology and especially their venue.

[Read about Church #15 and Church #17, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #16.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.