Reaching the unchurched: some thoughts

I picked up a copy of Reaching the Unchurched: Some lessons from Willow Creek last night and had a quick read. It’s only 20 pages so only took as long as some updates to Windows.

What struck me was that even 16 years on it is still very relevant and challenging (yes I know how old the Bible is!).  It made me think about how seeker friendly our services are and I fear we could do better.

It’s always hard because many parts of church become habit.

A good example was at church on Sunday when we had a baptism, so lots of visitors compared to normal. The person doing the intercessions (first bit of jargon) finished off in the usual Anglican way ‘Merciful Father…’ and those of us in the know finished off with ‘accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ Amen’. Now we didn’t announce where these words could be found (I do this all the time as well) so there was no way the visitors could have known what to say. For the record, I didn’t have to look the words up.

I feel bad about it now, but it didn’t cross my mind at the time, which only makes me feel worse!

The booklet hit the nail on the head with the assertion that seeker friendly services cannot be the same as ordinary church. What I’m looking for in terms of spiritual refreshment isn’t going to happen.

If you want a read, there are copies still floating around. I found five on the Amazon Marketplace.

I’m making a start on Mission Shaped Church now. Currently half price from Church House Publishing with some sample chapters available as PDF.

Playing to the same music

As it was an All Age Worship (family) service this morning, I was operating OpenSong as well as the mixer.  Generally quite straightforward as there isn’t too much to have to react to, apart from some swapping around of radio mics.

The only snag was at the end of the service when the words I had entered for ‘The Spirit Lives to set us free’ turned out to be different from those in the hands of the singers. Luckily we have a second monitor that points towards the music group so they were able to switch to that without any problems.

Being a techie I find myself casting around for a solution that involves some form of electronic wizardry. Perhaps it is time to push harder for internet access in the church.  Then we could have a central place to store information about the service.

Another solution is to run through the service in more detail (or indeed at all) before Sunday, as per the excellent advice to be found in the podcasts of Creative Synergy. As much as I agree however, it is harder for a small parish church with a limited headcount.

Perhaps this also inspires a feature request for OpenSong. A portable version would allow me to carry it around on a USB key so I would always know exactly what is on the notebook. Part of the problem was the service organiser had looked on the notebook for the words but I had copied them straight from Junior Praise that included an extra verse.

Of course, as OpenSong is opensource, there’s no reason for me not to have a go myself, perhaps it’s time to stop just lurking in the forum.

Then again, maybe I’m dwelling too much on the negative. It was only one song, and the rest of the service went without any problems.