I want to follow up on last week’s article. There have been many “Destination” churches. They exist everywhere. They usually are fairly new offering some fresh perspective. Usually they are composed of younger people as they are searching for something dynamic rather than same old, same old. The current destination churches have modern technologies, the latest styles in presentation and dress, and the latest sound which reflects the music beats of current hits. Usually there is a very charismatic, young, vibrant preacher who can hold the attention of a crowd. They can either be very entertaining or very good teachers, and many of them are both.
How long a destination church remains so depends on the length of the movement. For instance, The River church was a destination church during the Charismatic Renewal. It was exciting. This destination church reached its peak in the mid 1990’s with a top attendance of 360 people. From that point on it dropped slowly at first, but continued downward as the movement waned and the excitement dwindled.
During this whole period of success, excitement, and being the “Destination” church, the community was not affected. As I have been in the community the church is little known. People down the street do not know where the church is. The name is unknown. Oh, there are a few, but asking some, they would not know how to direct you to the church. To me, that was shocking. When I was in Waynesburg, everyone knew where we were. We may have been known as the Jesus Freaks, but they knew where we were.
We are in the process of changing that. When I was starting in my 20’s a Presbyterian minister told me we would never last. He said denomination remain and independents die after a decade or less. I thought to myself, that will not happen. Sadly, many have come and gone, splashes in the pan. Looking at this now, I realize that being a “destination” church can have a short lifespan if it does not impact and become a part of the community, or at least be an option in the community. We are in the process of reaching into the community with our vision of GO-LOVE-SERVE. It is going to take some time. We will have to be persevering in our vision and goals. This becomes a vision that is long term and engaging.
The book on becoming a welcoming church is a first step. If we catch this truth and make it part of our culture, our opportunities to speak of Jesus and our faith in Him will increase. If we see people in the community as friends and neighbors and not targets, we may earn the right to share our faith, our reason to be. “raison d’être” I know that you are great people, love the Lord, and now are being poised to reach others with the love of Christ!
- Pastor Bill