I couldn’t believe the comments that people posted!
My friends at churchleaders.com recently reposted an article from my blog. They’ve done this a few times. I’m happy to allow them access to anything they believe is helpful. What I wasn’t ready for was the comments that ensued. Wow! I’m glad I have thick skin!
If I remember correctly, I was called a heretic. I believe one person questioned my salvation and even suggested I prayed to Satan. It was suggested that I was ruining God’s church. That was flattering, because I didn’t realize I had that much influence! I engaged with some of the responders, but I quickly realized the futility of open conversation with angry Christians.
Often, when people in the community talk about Watermarke Church, a similar comment can be heard: “It’s a church for unchurched people, right?.” When I hear that comment, I’m find myself both excited and frustrated.
EXCITED: Excited because we ARE a church where unchurched people can and frequently do attend. In fact, our surveys show roughly 40% of our attendees were “unchurched” prior to attending (unchurched = not regularly attending any church for five years prior to attending Watermarke). Excited because people in our community see our church as a place an unchurched person can come to church. Many people who attend OTHER churches invite their unchurched friends to OUR church. That’s exciting (and weird). I’m not sure why anyone would attend a church where they couldn’t invite their unchurched friends!
FRUSTRATED: But that’s statement is a little frustrating, too, because we are NOT a church for unchurched people. Better said, we are not JUST a church for unchurched people. We are a church unchurched people love to attend. We are also a church church-people love to attend – especially church people who have a desire to reach the unchurched. There’s a significant difference between a “church for the the unchurched” and a “church unchurched people love to attend.”
Here’s a few key differences:
What would happen if the unchurched in your community suddenly attended this Sunday? Would you be ready?
Hopefully that sounds like a dream come true. Let’s pretend your attendance doubled – or tripled. And it’s the good kind of attendance increase, not the kind where you add disgruntled churchgoers who will soon find reasons to be disgruntled with your church!
At Watermarke Church, that is basically our story. When I first arrived to lead our church, we were stagnant at best. Watermarke was losing families weekly. This presented an obvious problem and distinct opportunity. We had to change and reframe our culture and collectively recommit to our vision – creating a church unchurched people would love to attend.
In our case, the hard work paid off. God led us to make many changes and our church began to grow quickly. As exciting as the new growth was, though, creating a church that attracted unchurched people has a disadvantage I never considered: unchurched people don’t know how to be church people. More specifically, they do not serve or give or participate, they only consume. Of course we were grateful to have their consumption, but I quickly realized encouraging and equipping our unchurched friends to participate IN the mission rather than consume FROM the mission was critical to our mission. More importantly, it was critical to their growing relationship with Jesus.