I came across a provocative post yesterday by Evan Erwin through the wonders of PubSub (terrific service, by the way). Evan's site, The Search for a Good Story, is a running commentary of his life and thoughts, not unlike this one. He had read Scoble's article on Fellowship Church and took the time to offer his view on church, particularly mega-churches [warning - Evan uses words periodically that are not found in the dictionary].
To be honest, I found his writing very entertaining and passionate. It helped that his criticisms came inbetween posts about his two young daughters and the struggles of parenting. I found myself wanting to answer his post, so I sat down last night and posted this reply.
Well done post and great site...I've enjoyed reading through your pages.
You make a lot of good points in your response to Scoble's article. Let me offer some of my perspective on a couple of them.
First, your right that size is a big issue. The fact is that at a certain point (and it's different for everybody) size becomes much more of a negative than positive, which can actually discourage people from trying the church. The worship center in Grapevine (Dallas-Ft. Worth area) holds 4000+ people, and we have 5 services each weekend. We spend a huge amount of time focusing on small groups that meet in homes specifically because it can be easy to get lost in such a large group of people. We're also looking at starting remote campuses to give people a smaller church closer to their homes for the same reason.
Second, you mention watered-down sermons and a showbiz feel. Honestly, that was my assumption as I avoided trying FC for more than a year. I'm quite a skeptic myself and my view was that anything that popular couldn't be good. I expected to find what you describe and was dumbfounded when it was completely different. The messages are focused on applying unchanging Biblical truths to our everyday lives. The music is focused on worship and the message itself, sometimes through Christian music, sometimes not. The focus of the church is on reaching the lost and impacting lives in the here and now, and for eternity.
We do have high standards and believe everything we do (including music, speaking, sound, creativity, print, etc...) should be done with excellence, to the best of our ability. But we were committed to that when we were a church of 1,000 10 years ago meeting in a local high school; only the scale has changed.
I obviously don't pretend to speak of churches as a whole. Every church has flaws, FC as much as any. We want people to find a local church that is right for them, where they can get involved and make a difference in their community, and if that's a small, traditional church, we couldn't be happier. In our area, we have thousands of people who have never stepped foot in a church and when the finally do, wonder why they shouldn't find the same quality of presentation they find elsewhere in their lives.
Thanks again for your comments. Keep up the good work, and feel free to look me up if you're ever in the Dallas area and I'd be happy to show you around.
What struck me in Evan's site was something of a running theme for me. If we want to have any hope of communicating with one another, and learning from one another, we have to realize that we're all self-centered sinners, trying to do the best we can in this life for ourselves, our family, and our community. I have found peace and joy, forgiveness and grace, through a personal relationship with Christ, but that doesn't separate me from Evan, or anyone else, as a fellow human being.
Evan certainly had strong things to say, and I obviously have a different view, but his site couldn't hide the fact that he's a good guy, with a great family, who's has opinions and questions just like me, including how to be a good dad.
If we can't have a conversation, none of us have a chance. So, I took a leap of faith and responded in the best way I could, and today I was rewarded with this fine sentiment from Evan on his site.
Wow, I gotta give props to my man Brian Bailey. He responded to my recent blog post below, and his comments are very insightful.
I appreciate his time and effort to respond to my, frankly, very hurtful comments when read in the mindset of someone who might happen to go to Fellowship Church. I have great respect for people who can not only take criticism, but respond accordingly. Not to mention those with great intentions who can actually deliver on those principles.
And hey, Quakecon isn't ruled out this year, so be careful what you wish for Brian ;) You could have a Geek Sighting sometime in August.
I'm fully aware that there's a lot of people that would have responded to my comment, no matter how diplomatic, with a hate-filled diatribe, followed by a DNS attack and selling my email address to the highest bidder. In all honesty, you never know what the result will be when you step over the line, even spiritually, but more often than not, you're rewarded.
Thanks, Evan. The offer stands anytime you're in the area.