My bus trip around Philadelphia yesterday got me thinking again about comfort and how we use our desire for it to shape where we worship. When we went to Bethel Deliverance Church, we saw a church that started in a motel suite. They were able to squeeze 60 in the space. Neither the outside nor the inside was much to look at. When they had more than 60, they put them in other rooms and piped in video and sound through security cameras. Not sure how long the church continued in that fashion, but it was for quite some time.
One of the DMin students asked how this church kept people coming since the facility was so poor. His assumption was that suburban folk wouldn’t stand for that kind of issue. The pastor said that the church was primarily conversions to Christ and not transfer. #1 they didn’t know anything else, and #2 it was the Word they were hungry for. Some 20 years later, this church still remains an evangelistic and sending congregation.
How much does comfort play into your church decisions? Style? Space? Demographic? Content?
My church began in the 70s and for many years was like this. Somewhere, I think it lost its cutting edge and became more comfort seeking. Now, our facility isn’t much to look at, but somewhere I think it became a church body looking to be comforted and discipled than to be sent. I love my church and the leaders are doing everything they can to resurrect the sending part. But, until we folk start wanting to be uncomfortable, they are going to be frustrated in their goals. And I have to not point the finger to others. I want to be served–frankly–and need to contend with my me-centered desires.
3 responses to “How uncomfortable are you willing to be in church?”
It reminds me of the church I left a few years ago. Sending people to foreign countries, but not into the desperate city of Allentown,yet somehow they found the funds to start a double digit building project. The church is now faltering, the building project is on hold, and the congregation is starting to realize that God’s work is more than just a cool coffee bar for church-goers on a Sunday morning. I, too, desire a church that’s real, raw, and missional, but I keep coming back to this–I must be the change I wish to see.
i agree. what attracted me to new life in 1985 was the ‘hippie church’ label it had. every place else was just the ‘little man at the front, directing traffic’… we’ve gotten older..makes me wonder where our ideals of the 60’s went… i frankly like our new chairs because the other ones were too high for my feet to touch the floor. so now i have the back of the seat rack in front of me for my feet.i would like to see the envelope pushed a bit, but we have a lot of families with young kids, like yours.
i do think we need to disciple. i’m not sure how much of that was/is going on behind the scenes, but i’ll bet it’s not a lot. but an ‘i don’t know enough to step out into the world’ isn’t an excuse for stepping out.
I like the new chairs and bibles as well. I’m sure we need discipleship but it may need to come in the form of being on the “street”.