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  • Amber Lily Brenner
  • Jan Simson
  • Jan Vajda
  • Olivia Christensen
  • JRobi Friend
  • Kari Soto
  • Pinky Chan
  • Olivia Kaplan
  • Leslie Turis

What would make church interesting?

D.J. Soto

Long story short...
I'm a pastor.
I have a staff of 3 and we are starting a church in the Spring of 2014.
We are young, energetic entrepreneurs.
My questions is: In 2014, what would make a church interesting enough for you to attend? Even if you are not religious, what would interest you?

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  • Amber Lily Brenner

    I attend a church South Carolina and I love it. Our pastor does a great job of being honest with our church family. He admits what he struggles with, talks about issues that traditional churches refuse to talk about, and teaches the bible not politics or a social agenda. This really connects with young people and I wish more churches did this. Unbelievers look at church and see it as boring or think that only older people go and that should not be the case. Church needs to be geared to all age groups, especially the young people because this is when we are the most vulnerable to the world.
    Our church has a few values that we say (probably way too much) and it drives all that we do: saved people serve people, found people find people, growing people change, and you can't do life alone.
    We're all about next steps, growing on our walks, and above all else community through serving and community groups.
    I could go on and on about what makes me love my church so much. Its funny, honest, awesome music, the family, the fact that sometimes we have people come in their pajamas (at least they're coming, right?!), the awesomeness of the long waits and traffic jams from people trying to get into the parking lot (how often do you get to see that?), and the simple truths that are preached there.
    Make church interesting by not making it for perfect people. Jesus didn't come to hang out with the religious people. He came to reach those that were far from God. That's what He was about. That's what church should be about!
    Sorry for the rant! Good luck and God bless!

  • pulecz

    Why? World does not need another church. World needs non-biased education.
    Also, the connection of "church" and "entrepreneur" - are you making it a business?

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Growing up Jewish, I think getting together for food and community was most important for me. I've seen some interesting things being done with integrating modern music into churches/temples. There's a church by my house that interprets indie music for hymns.

  • D.J. Soto

    Wow! Excellent though-provoking comments. This is the type of feedback I was looking for. These comments are helping me to broaden my thinking. I desire to find a fresh approach to spiritual life for the next generation.

  • Carolyn Sams

    I was just talking to my brother this morning about church and building meaningful communities (he is a pastor at a large church here in Southern California, while I'm working out what GOOD does on a local level). The thing about my church (and other value-based communities that I'm a part of) is that I feel indispensable because I am recognized as an individual.

    A quote from Bonhoeffer that's been a drumbeat for me: "People who love community destroy it. People who love people create community wherever they go."

    A few years ago, me and some friends considered starting a church plant since our Saturday morning morning group grew pretty large. We had the people, a format, and it seemed to work. But we didn't start a new church. Instead, we split up into smaller groups and reignited this feeling of being indispensable. The larger group stays connected through the church we all met through, but our community is smaller and deeper and much more meaningful in my life.

    Here at GOOD we're constantly talking about what Robert Putnam writes about in "Bowling Alone," and I think it would be an interesting read for anyone starting a faith-based community. (Another valuable quote, this one from Putnam: "Real-world interactions often force us to deal with diversity, whereas the virtual world may be more homogeneous.")

  • Jessica Rivera

    so, I was looking at what you are doing....and what's always made church interesting to me is people's commitments to a group relationship - like a body. I mean, that's how the "church" started. Keeping denominations and liturgy aside, church was defined by community - praying together, breaking bread together, sharing everything they had together, rejoicing together, and bearing each other's burdens together - in the same room, often times in someone's house. I struggle with the idea of multi-church sites for that very reason. Is fellowship really the same virtually? I've definitely seen this benefit communities in places where church isn't really available, but is that our struggle too now?

    • D.J. Soto

      Thank you for the reminder about the "body" and the "community" importance of spiritual gatherings. In all the planning, the simple aspects of just "being" with each other could easily be lost.

      • Jessica Rivera

        Totally agree! Thanks for being so thoughtful as you approach this!

  • Rosalie Murphy

    I love my religious community because most of my close friends are there. The church, temple, synagogue, etc. is a gathering place. Overt political agendas are a huge turn-off for me (and, I think, most people of my generation). And I agree that the ability to make a real difference is paramount -- through my church I've been able to work with immigrant communities and the homeless. Many volunteers are religious and many aren't, but the impact is the same, and knowing that we committed to a weekly or monthly task together keeps most people coming back.

    Good luck!

    • D.J. Soto

      Yes! Keep politics out of church! To bring politics into church in a concentrated way is alienating. I notice that Jesus was focusing on feeding the poor and healing the sick rather than protesting the Roman Empire. Good points!

  • Dieter Randolph

    This is a great question, and one that I wrestle with myself. It's absolutely the case that people consume and participate in education in new ways, and, similarly, that a lot of folks just don't go to church. This is a good thing, though -- it means, among other things, that the people who DO go will participate not out of fear or obligation bur rather out of a desire to be fed and to make a difference.

    Put another way, movie theater ticket prices are high, buying candy requires a credit rating, and there's at least one knucklehead texting throughout the show. At the same time, home theater technology is increasingly good. But people still go to the movies; I think part of the reason for that is that it speaks to something primal within us.

    I think making church interesting has everything to do with making it relevant to everyday life. If folks can get positive tools that help them make the world here-and-now a better, more positive, more practical, more inclusive and empowering place, they'll show up.

    Please get in touch with me and let me know how it goes for you.

    • D.J. Soto

      I love the concept you presented that people "ingest" information through a variety of ways and methods. It makes me want to think how I can broaden the experience beyond a one hour experience on a Sunday morning.

      • Dieter Randolph

        Absolutely -- if something is truly meaningful, perhaps it needs to be less about compartmentalization into sacred and secular time and space and more about inclusivity and practicality.

    • Adele Peters

      Totally agree that it's a good thing most people (at least in the United States) no longer feel obligated to go to church, so those that attend are likely there for deeper reasons. I'm not religious, and I think it would be hard to convince me to go to church. But I would be interested in volunteering in my neighborhood through a church...

      • D.J. Soto

        Adele, that's totally where I'm coming from concerning your comment that people no longer feel obligated to go to church. So, it's interesting that you said volunteering would pique your interest. Maybe less talk and more action should be my direction.

  • Casey Caplowe

    I grew up Jewish, and would not consider myself religious, though i am quite interested in spirituality and religions. I've studied Buddhism a bit.

    So, i'm not sure i'm your target here, but it is an interesting question. I think if i knew there was a space for discussion and information about religion in an open and non-prosteletizing way—in a way that allowed for exploration rather than presumed or demanded commitment, i think that could be interesting to me. I wouldn't expect that to be a driver of a church's programming. But if you had a day that was like church for non-believers, i'd be intrigued by that.

    I recently was talking to a friend who i don't see often who noted that he was a verified born-again Christian. And that he very much used to be an avowed atheist. But he had an "encounter." And now looks at his religion as a practice even, more than or at least because of a belief set. That stuff is fascinating to me.

    • D.J. Soto

      Thanks Casey! I believe you are exactly right that spiritual gatherings should be a "space for discussion." We have a generation of critical thinkers, so to try to "force religion" on people is a poor approach.