23 December, 2006

FHC: The Church of Tomorrow - Part 8, Why Corner Church?

I can't say I'm really sure whether Jim and Brenda decided to attend Corner Church. I can guarantee you Brenda sees things a little differently than her goal-oriented husband, but I have not written anything on that yet.

It's pretty obvious, though, that Jim is sold on Corner Church.

I would like to venture a word about why.

It's not the gimmicks. The seats in a circle, and there not being an offering taken during the meeting won't make anyone change churches. Letting the congregation choose songs just by starting them is pretty tough to do right (it takes some strong worship leadership to teach everyone to do that well,) and so is having a worship service without anyone watching the clock to make sure everything happens on time.

I've done every single one of those things and more in a church of 30 people, and I know they can be done over the long haul. I've seen them all done at weekend retreats of 150 people, by people who have no clue what they're doing when the weekend begins. By the end of a single weekend, everyone has the hang of it. We Christians are really pretty smart people, when given the chance to show it.

But none of those things are why Jim picked Corner Church.

I quote from Part 1 of this series:

GenY and [the Millenium Generation] want some things very badly.
1) Something important to do.
2) Someone to hold their hands.
3) The right to define their own schedule.

Allow me to take them in order.

Something Important To Do

The moment Jim walked in the door, he was told that his skills as a mechanic would be put to respectable use. He was told that he would not be allowed to go long without knowing his bible, too. When he got to the Philippians class, he was given verse 12 to study and share on next week.

Jim got homework.

GenX, GenY and the Millenium Generation hate busy work, but they love meaningful work. We have to get over our fear of working the young generation. They hate our fill-in-the-blank busy sheets, but they love to be stretching themselves about anything they care about. At my place of business, my youngest workers do the most after-hours work. Plain and simple. But they don't do any stupid work, no matter what time it is. They surf the Web instead. We need to give out real work, with real meaning, and be amazed when it comes back done perfectly.

Someone to Hold Their Hands.

Every bit of the homework Jim received came with someone to help him. Thom would teach him the bible. Bob and Karl would work with him on Phil 2:12. Thom and Karen would make sure his nose was wiped.

Rugged individualism is over.

We can stop preaching against that now.

Rugged individualism is so passe as to make us sound clueless when we preach against it. Our churches are losing people, yes, but not to a go-it-alone Christianity. We are losing them to sleeping in on Sunday. We are losing them to trying to figure out how to find a decent mate when there's no such thing as a pleasant social activity any more. Mostly, though, we are losing them to boredom.

Remember Corner Church's "library packet?" Our youth don't have to learn details the way we did. We had to memorize the speed of light in a vacuum, because if we didn't know it, it might mean a trip to the library after they'd closed. Our youth can pull something like that up on their cellphones while driving to work. We needed to learn all the verses that paved the Romans Road. They just need to learn where it is on Wikipedia.

And they know it.

They can put their hands on any information they need, when they need it, without any fuss or hesitation. We just need to give them a good reason to do it, and we need to be there to help them.

The Right to Define Their Own Schedule

This one is tough.

At Corner Church, Sunday morning happens on time every week. The den meetings, though, happen on all the den mothers' schedules. Everyone has input into when the den meetings happen, and the Barny meetings happen whenever.

There's nothing holy in my mind about Sunday morning, but it's the single most likely time in America to find everyone free and available. So, everyone has to play on Sunday morning. Plain and simple. The seniors will like this, of course, but that's only one good reason. The main reason for doing it is because it works. And in my experience, GenX, etc respond well to, "it works."

As long as they know how much work they have to do, and how long they have to get it done, they'll make their schedules work on their own. Believe me. I was some kind of freaked out when I saw some of the schedules my GenY'ers wanted to keep in a Fortune 500 company, but when I saw how well they performed, I zipped my lips and got happy.

Codepoke's Take

You all know that I would go to the Corner Church, but honestly, I would probably be wishing for the Walkers to come back the whole time. I was saved as a munchkin during the Jesus Movement, and I'm still wishing those days would come back. :-)

What matters is love. Love to God, love to each other, and love to our neighbors.

I just think we need to size that love appropriately. We tend to either love as individuals or as a faceless organization. We need to love at a size that will mean something to humans. When we reach out, the people to whom we reach need to know "us" not "it." I believe that means small to middlin' churches. It certainly means small outreach - neighbors to neighbors.

Aren't you sick to death of having flyers hung on your door? Don't you know 100 churches you could attend if you felt like giving up your only free morning listening to some guy drone on? Can't you create your own wonderful atmosphere in Starbucks? Why go to a large outreach church?

Our problem in America is that we are isolated from each other, and the church is trying to solve it with advertising. We need to quit advertising, cold turkey. We need to get into the business of getting close to each other. We need to start confessing sin and success to each other. We need to start confessing that we don't know how to make our lawns stay green, and we need some help. We need to confess that if we had neighbors who loved the Lord, we could break our addiction to Lost, Desparate Housewives and Monday Night Football. We really need each other, much more than any sermon.

Jim is soon going to be having friends over every week, and he is going to be over at Thom's and Bob's at least monthly. And Thom is going to volunteer Jim to look at his neighbor's wife's car before they send it to a shop. They are going to make a difference.

They are going to touch lives, and they are going to have faces when they do it.

Besides, it's a whole lot more fun.



Milly said...

You sold me here more then you did there. I felt very in your face when I first read about the Corner Church. I thought wow I’d feel very uncomfortable I had a cult sort of feeling. Then I read this one and rethought it. I think the CoC back ground set me up on this one.

See ya at the coffee shop for the Bible and an over priced drink.

karen said...

I guess I just don't do Sunday church because...well, I have to listen to some guy drone on. My little singing group is from a big church and after we were singing at an assisted living home; I was trying to get over to talk to a resident who was about my age, with what I thought was cerebral palsy. I kept getting stopped by my co-singers who were trying to get me to come to church some Saturday and Sunday. There they were...advertising church to me...and all I wanted to do was get to that gal who looked like she needed company. Ironic.

codepoke said...


Yeah, I cannot resist inserting all my favorite gimmicks. Gimmicks don't a church make, though. It's something much more that we need. It's the perception of value given, purpose. It's the feeling that everyone around us needs our little bit of love.

And we can (and do) say that all day long, but we're not stupid. I know that if I quit showing up at church tomorrow, there would be this huge blip, and then I'd be a memory. There would not really be a hole in anyone's life, because I am not really giving anything but my curmudgeonly personality to anyone.

If I am giving more, I will feel more needed. And I'll feel more invested. And where my treasure is, there will my heart be also.

codepoke said...


because...well, I have to listen to some guy drone on

LOL. Yeah. And that would not be so bad, if I had not been in church for 30+ years now, and heard it all ten too many times.

and all I wanted to do was get to that gal who looked like she needed company. Ironic.

I bet if church were about getting to that gal, you'd want to be there.

DugALug said...


There is one more lure of these corner churches, as well as to many cults (and there is a great difference between those two): You are not a number.

It is more than the recognition of talent: it is acknowledgement of the need of those talents.

In bigger churches, it seems like whatever skills that you have been blessed with, there are three more who have that same skill-set. You are not unique. And though you are needed, you are replaceable.

Still, as a member of church of 16 for a year up in college, I see some unmentioned big problems with these churches too. The biggest one is that it is easier to go off the rails. A strong leader who is unwilling to be accountable can lead the flock anywhere. In most cases the leader is unaware of how far off the path that he/she has gone, and his loyal flock is blinded by their belief in the charisma of the one driving the bus. Without some pegs of true accountability many of these small churches are destined to burn out or that dreaded 'C-word'.

Either way, this is why they make red cars, blue cars and convertables. I want to point out that the church is not the problem, it is missing God's calling that is.

I believe that all of these churches have purpose and God's plans are big enough to accomodate ALL of them. God never tried to just one way to reach the world. Even Jesus, evangelized to groups and to individuals. The important thing is for us to God where God would have us go, not where we think we should go.

God Bless

Milly said...

Why Milly thought the “C” word.

First I have to remind you that Milly’s mom was the strong influence of religion in our home, mom was raised in a home by a came from money, Tennessee, CoC mother. You know the tight jawed Southern accent. Yep I was the black sheep to marry a Yankee Catholic.

There are a few things in the post that sent the bells to ringing.

Control and laid down their lives for someone was the biggest

I know you're just checking things out, so make yourself right at home. No pressure."

"Thom tells me you live in the same neighborhood with him, so he and Karen will be your Den Mothers. If you decide to come back, Thom will get you library packet, too. The packet gives you everyone's phone numbers and volunteer skills. I'm a finish carpenter, so I list that as my skill. That way new folk know who to call when they need a little advice. Call me if your kitchen counter top is buckling, and you wonder what to do. Whatever."

What does my 'Den Mother do ?

"Oh, pretty much the same things as a Cub Scout den mother. They'll plan all the events in your neighborhood, and make sure everyone's noses have been wiped. Whenever there's a little trouble, they make sure flowers and meals get sent over. They make sure all the young parents get a little kid-free time, especially the singles. And they set the knowledge-work agenda. You won't stay long with Thom, and not know your bible.

Now they are planning your week and your studies

"Thom and Karen will also make sure you have a Barnie, your 'Barnabus.' Paul never went out alone, so we don't either. You'll have a pastor, a couple den mothers, and a partner to ease you into things. And the library packet has a step-by-step guide to what we believe, and to what we believe isn't really important.

"In some ways, yes. But really, it's just like every other church, except that we work really hard to come up with ways not to be alone. It is not good that the man should be alone. So, we study a little together, we work together a little, and we eat together as much as we can. It feels like the way things were meant to be."

Never went out alone. . . .a. . . .hmmm. . . . .
Nothing has changed. The Father's will is that we love. The Father's will is that His children lay down their lives. First we lay down our lives for each other, but we lay down our lives for all. When we have laid down our lives, then we can appear before Him unashamed, knowing that we lived as He lived.

Lay down you life is repeated and in the wake of what we have seen several times over, If the ATF is a knocking open the door. If the name the town after the leader don’t drink the punch.

You hear them say that they are just like any other church and that they are very much a part of your day to day life. And yes some of that sounds good but you have just met the folks and now they have planned what you study, your nights, out and well . . . .what if you call another landscaper?

This church sounds like they want to be involved in you life big time, sure structure like that is good for some and not for others. After all Milly laughed at the military recruiters when the approached her and Codepoke joined up.

At times I want the small coffee house church. I’d like to see Jim visit that one. I'd be happy to buy him a coffee.

(I’d love to own a small coffee house myself one that has cool music playing without big companies dictating the decor or how we make the coffee. I’d lend it out for the Coffee House Church.)

codepoke said...

Great thoughts, DugALug. I would have missed them, so thank you.

codepoke said...

Excellent, Milly.

I have a lot to think about. All these points are more important than whether Corner Church might be cultish. They come down to the matter of what the church should be.

I have been challenged this very day from 4 different directions (only one of which being this blog) on what the church should be, and whether my vision is profitable. It has been a humbling week. I wait to see what tomorrow may bring. And whether it brings and comments from me. :-)