Recently I was contacted by someone from the Episcopal Church in Amherst, Massachusetts. She inquired about our lay led church model and said that her church was looking for just such a model for the future. She heard about us through folks at the Benedictine community where I am an Oblate. She isn't the first representative of another church or diocese to contact us about our system. I wonder why all the interest?
It's no surprise when we hear that people are not joining churches like they used to. And, in fact, people are leaving traditional churches in droves. Young people, especially, are saying they need more than being told what to believe and they need places where they aren't judged and can be themselves. And, they aren't looking for the 'same old, same old'.
I think that's something that makes us different. In our video interviews Dave Butler explains it best when he says 'we have liberals, conservatives and everything in between and we pride ourselves on being non-judgemental.' (In a humorous outtake from that interview Dave uses slightly more colorful language; oh how I wish we could use THAT interview.) What Dave is saying is that all the 'models' in the world won't attract people if they aren't allowed to be themselves, if the church isn't welcoming. People are looking for faith communities that allow them to be active members just as they are without being asked to become something other than what they are.
To attract new people and serve our existing community our messaging has to make the point loud and clear that we are just such a church - where you can come as you are.
In the days and weeks ahead we are going to be developing a series of new messages about Christ Church that we can use in social media and perhaps even advertising. These messages, being developed by our Communications Committee headed by Katrina Cole with Brett Wiseman as chief 'message developer,' are going to stress what makes us different, and (I hope) are even going to challenge people to consider joining us because we are different from any other church they have attended before, or the 'no church' state of their spiritual life now.
Here's some examples: If you are looking for a church that encourages you to pray AND use your brain, check us out. Another one they are considering: Looking for a church where you can come as you are PHYSICALLY and SPIRITUALLY? Check us out.
The committee is really looking to be innovative so if you have an idea for a catch phrase or a statement that you think will get people's attention, send it on to Brett and Katrina (email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org).
Together we can get the uniqueness of Christ Church to a wider world. Truth is I believe we have a lot to offer to the church.