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.
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.