Wednesday, August 02, 2006

OK To Be Different

I was talking with a friend of mine, who visits a lot of churches when he travels, about how so many churches seem to be the same right now. From the appearance of the building, to the flow of the service; everything feels copied out of a seeker, mega-church book somewhere. Now, this is not necessarily a complete bad thing. I think we can absolutely learn from other successful churches and apply what works in our neighborhood. But, I also think churches should start looking at what they can do well and do differently. In order to reach this generation, I think that we need different kinds of churches who preach the Gospel. What is unique about you? What is a different and effective way to reach lost people and build believers? These are questions that I have been asking about our church, Seacoast Greenville. Here are a few of the things that I think makes us unique (note: I am referring to Seacoast Greenville only - not Seacoast Church as a whole).

1. First Wednesday Services. I know that this has become a popular trend with churches now, but I really dig the way they work for us. They are purposely not over-programmed. There is always preparation and planning that happens before, but we are totally open to whatever direction the Spirit takes us. Worship & prayer is a priority on those nights. My favorite service at Seacoast.

2. Sunday Worship Response. We have recently opened the time following the message for people to respond to what they have just experienced. During our worship time, people are free to seek prayer from elders, take communion, nail their requests and sins to a cross, light a candle to represent a prayer for someone, and give their tithes as worship. This has revolutionized how our people worship. I cry everytime when I see a family gather together to take communion. We are also seeing people healed and marriages strengthened through the prayer time.

3. Programmed, But Yet Not. I think one of the strengths of Seacoast has always been our seemingly laidback, but moving services. I talk to people all the time who tell me they cried from the first note of music until they walked out of the building. Something powerful moved them to tears and repentance. That's the power of the Holy Spirit. We are never too uptight about trying to put on the greatest show, but we are very intentional about creating moments where people can meet God's presence. That is our #1 priority every Sunday.

4. Honest Worship. I tell my band almost every week - we are not up here to put on a show. They can get that at the Handlebar on Saturday night. We are here to help people worship in spirit and in truth. Does that mean it has to be totally serious and mellow? Absolutely not! We like to enjoy praising our risen Savior! We rock hard and occasionally throw in a screaming guitar solo. I also want our band to look like their having fun while they are worshipping with their instruments. A drummer who smiles and sings along is very cool! It also doesn't mean that it isn't high quality. I believe that our God deserves our best, and there no worse distractions to worship than bad notes!

5. Real People In Leadership. What you see at Seacoast is what you get. None of our leaders are perfect (thank God!). They are on the same path to Christ as everyone else, just at different stages. The people on stage look and talk exactly the same way off of it. And no, I am not going to start tucking in my shirts and wearing socks and shoes! That's just who I am!!! :)

That's us. I would love to hear about what God is doing unique in your church!

2 comments:

-Ryan said...

Hey man. I like your blog and appreciate your post. There seems to be a lot of churches not doing the hard work of discovering who THEY are. I think that's what has made the mega churches successful. They figured out who they were and then they do that. We should all strive for this. Thanks for you blog

Geoff said...

Great post, I like the distinctives you've outlined. I do think there is a trend toward McChurches who simply copy what they see at the latest conference.

I agree with everything you say about the uniqueness of Seacoast and at the individual expression at Greenville. This week we had several guests from around the country (and the world) at our 1st Wednesday. They were blown away by our worship (which is very similar to the worship in Greenville) I think we can lose perspective that God has blessed us with an ability to help people connect intimately with him through incredible worship. The more we can emphasize that and let the other fluff fall away, the more we become who God has called us to be.