how to “do” church
Ok in the interest of full disclosure I am someone who thinks about this sort of stuff a lot that stuff being “How should we do Church” honestly it’s a question that I have wrestled with and will more than likely continue wrestling with for the rest of my life. In my opinion Church for the most part in “Australia” doesn’t seem to connect with the everyday Aussie and given that we who attend Church carry the message of Christ in us I believe that being a part of a Church that is incarnational is possible.
I also think that it isn’t as easy as what’s right and what’s wrong, you know horses for courses and all that, although there is truth that is transcendent and can be applied universally. So I’ll just give a very brief summary of what I have seen in some of the Churches we have visited on our US trip.
Willow Creek Church Barrington
This seems to be a highly organized leadership driven Church which flows straight out of the main leader Bill Hybels, they have world class speakers, an incredible facility and their love for God is clear and evident right from the door greeters to the top ranks of leadership. Their service has creative elements that are designed to help you connect with the message, a moment and assist you to receive what is said. During worship these 8 huge curtains open at different stages to reveal a breath taking waterfall for all to see from inside the auditorium. Now obviously not every church will have a squillian dollar budget and be able to pull this off but then again we don’t need to, I’ll say this, as breathtaking as that was I no more connected with God in that environment than I do at my home church or in a car or in a quiet time with God. So I love all that they are doing and truly believe that Gods in it but am not discouraged that we don’t have what they have well actually we do and His name is Jesus as so long as we honor Him all will be ok.
Granger Church in Indiana
I have written a bit about my experience here in a previous blog but I will explain it here also. Their service was a modern service with all the bells and whistles of a modern relevant Church, we sat with Mark Conner from Citylife Church in Melbourne. In all aspects of their service you saw a passion for Jesus that was far bigger than their structure or organization in this setting I saw the passion that normally is only found in small start up groups married with the momentum that is possible when you have structure and influence. What I saw was Granger Church using their influence for City transformation, feeding the poor, proclaiming Jesus, doing overseas mission, making disciples and gearing up to resource the Church on a worldwide scale. So keep an eye out for these guys and if, you’re a Pastor of a Church who is excited about the idea of growing your Church through intentional discipleships and reaching your city then either contact Granger direct or email me at email@example.com and I will pass on some further details where you could join the conversation and potentially benefit your community.
The Village Church Dallas
We didn’t get to see a Sunday service with these guys which is a real shame as I love what God is doing at this Church, but we were privileged to meet with their groups pastor Jared Musgrove. We had a delicious lunch at The Villiage Grill where years ago Pastor Matt Chandler and a few others wrote out the churches vision on the paper which covered the tables. Their heart for the Gospel to be the central theme of everything they do and their ability to make that the main thing and maintain vision clarity is really a thing to behold. Their mission is something like “To bring glory to God through Gospel centered Worship, Gospel centered community, Gospel centered service and Gospel centered multiplication” Matt Chandler is their teaching pastor and I would recommend this 4 min clip to catch his heart for the lost. [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=o-zR3h2UsR4&feature=youtube_gdata_player] if you watch this please let me know your thoughts. These guys are big on small groups which live out the vision of the church Jared Musgrove said that he believes that Gospel centered Worship, Community, Service and Multiplication can all happen right out of the home groups and that is a huge way that they make disciples. From what I understand their services are fairly straightforward without a lot of bells and whistles but still manages to be relational and relevant as they preach the Gospel to a city of mostly Christians who have disconnected with the true meaning of grace and replaced it with a message about morals instead. I loved this church and will continue to be in connection with them as the Lord allows.
Gateway Community Church Austin Texas
We have spent the weekend at their In house leadership weekend where we worshipped together, recieved teaching/encouragement and also heard a compelling Vision from founding pastor John Bourke (Author of No Perfect People Allowed) Now I won’t give away their vision strategy because they haven’t even gone public to their Church about it yet but I will say that it’s a big vision with the intention to reach many more people than they currently are. This is a Church that promotes the philosophy of you “belong before you believe” and they put it into practice, allowing visitors who have not yet made their mind up about God to participate in different tasks in the Church simply because they want to be around them. They also have a large emphasis on their groups believing that this is the place that people can form deep friendships where authenticity and discipleship happens as they care for encourage one another. We will be going to their Church tomorrow and so I may be able to add to this description then.
Well it’s late so thats all for now, God has been so good and were looking forward to discussing some of our leanings with first our staff then Catalyst Church as we all push into what does it look like for us to be the most impacting Church possible for our Cities benefit. We dont have all the answers but im convinced the wrestling until we find what works for us and where God is leading is vitally important and worth the effort! So if you have made it this far, well done you either really have nothing better to do or your willing to join us in the pursuit of Gods mission for the Australian Church.
6 thoughts on “how to “do” church”
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Hey Dan – it’s interesting to consider your comment: “In my opinion Church for the most part in “Australia” doesn’t seem to connect with the everyday Aussie and given that we who attend Church carry the message of Christ in us I believe that being a part of a Church that is incarnational is possible.”:
I wonder if the Aussie Christian (or Catalyst Christian!) connects with the everyday Aussie? I wonder too if the church is meant to be the primary connecting / soul-winning part of the seeker’s journey…or if maybe we mostly need believers who are Christlike in terms of authentic, relevant, grace-filled, consistent, passionate, mission-focused, etc.
Maybe we put too much pressure on the church service to meet the needs of both believers and seekers?
I like the way Catalyst does church (incl but not limited to Sunday services). I also like Church that focuses well on making Jesus-like disciples.
Good on you and Carl for checking out some churches that are effective in reaching lost and/or disenchanted people. It’s great having pastors who are more concerned with the real mission than building a name or empire. God bless you both – and your families who are no doubt missing you.
I’d like to mirror Neil’s comments above – it is great to have a leadership that is open to learning from others!
I think The Village is set in a similar culture to what we have in Ipswich, a mainly blue collar, post-christian (or religious) community, so there are probably a lot of “take home” ideas that can be gleaned for Catalyst.
thanks for taking the time, and for being inconvenienced, to travel overseas to humbly learn how to better serve and lead us into the future, and also for posting about your experiences so we can all be a part of it.
I have been out of town but am now catching up. I love the video clip and am going to give it to some people who need the encouragement of the last line. “Jesus wants the rose.” I weep.
Yeah I thought it was such a powerful video which demonstrates how much God loves us despite our filth, rather than distancing Himself from us because we are dirty. Something for us to remember perhaps I’ll use it in Church someday?
Hey Neil and Greg,
We really are wrestling with the question of how we should do church and I have to say that the wrestle is absolutely exhaughsting but hopefully worth it. What we saw overseas was that as we wrestled with hard questions God was confirming so many things for us either by meeting just the right person who would answer the very thing we were talking about or allowing a situation to happen that confirmed once again what we were discussion. I’m believing that as we continue to wrestle (probably for the rest of our lives) that will continue to amazing and teach us the way forward for the sake of His Kingdom.
We have an extra responsibility as leaders to lead in a way that is Biblical and returns glory to God while also making disciples… Anyway what I’m saying is that it’s a huge responsibility and a huge privilege so thanks for supporting and praying for us.