Making Church Matter

Crowne Plaza, Part I

January 31, 2010

We’re getting pretty excited about the upcoming launch of our Crowne Plaza venue.  But we’re still getting questions about why we’re doing this.  The next few posts we’re going to field some of the questions we’ve been getting. 

First question, number one question: “What are we doing and why are we doing it?”

The original impetus came from the obvious fact that at optimum times we are full, we’re ridiculously, frightfully, wonderfully full. The long term problem of how we will handle so many more people than our current facility was designed for is being discussed by our Strategic Planning Team.  Short term is another problem: how do we continue to engage our community and reach out to the unchurched?  How do we invite people to become disciples? Or rather, where do we do it? 

We’re expanding off campus, to another campus to reach out to people in Timonium who don’t have a church (and probably don’t even like church) to join us…not for church but for good worship music and a message that gets them thinking about God. We’re inviting everyone in our parish boundaries (21093) and we’re encouraging parishoners to invite others they know like that (people who don’t have a church/don’t like church) to join us at Crowne Plaza. We’ve even got invitation cards, and eventually some videos too, that parishoners can use to invite guests.

Crowne Plaza isn’t an expansion, it isn’t a step-child, it isn’t an “overflow” or seating for second class citizens. Its not just making more seats available at optimum times.

Crowne Plaza is a cultural shift, not a tactical addition. Crowne Plaza makes us a fundamentally different church, at least for the period of our experiment.  Crowne Plaza changes our perspective as well as our practice as a church, it changes the way we are a church community in Timonium.  We’re not just multiplying sites and adding seats, what we should be multiplying is impact and influence.

Church people always say “Church isn’t just a building” but then operate entirely as if that’s all it is.  The New Testament churches of the first century were never defined by buildings or fixed locations. There were no churches or church campuses. Groups of believers met in homes, in synagogues, underground and out in open spaces.  They didn’t see themselves as isolated communities competing for members; they saw themselves as part of the body of Christ, each helping to build the whole body.  The church at Corinth, the church at Antioch, the church at Ephesus all recognized that they were part of the single Body of Christ with one single mission: to build the Body.

Think of the energy and power of a church community not built around a facility, nor a monument, nor a location, nor a personality, nor a school or other program, but instead, a church built around a mission.

Jesus told us to “go” into the world and make disciples of all nations. If we propose to serve that commission we can’t continue to hold onto the comfortable position of being a church that meets in one location under one roof. This is the change in perspective that changes everything.

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