Mar 16, 2008

Church Hunting--Pastor T's Techniques...

I consulted Pastor T (from our most recent church) for some church hunting techniques. I was telling him about our experiences at the local Foursquare church, since he comes from a Foursquare background--and went to a Foursquare school, even--and would be able to offer unparalleled insight, except for perhaps Mrs T, who went to the same school. It's where they met.

I found his response to be most enlightening, especially when he reminded me about a fantastic reference I've got at my disposal, if only I can find which box it's hiding in.

So anyway what follows is his response, nearly verbatim--

Foursquare makes me laugh. Really. That kind of light, almost-a-giggle-but-not-'cause-I'm-a-guy-and-guys-don't-giggle type of, seriously, they're a good group of folks, but the "worship leader with hair that was formed from a plastic-injection mold" is actually quite typical within the denomination (I mean, let's be honest, the word "square" is built right in) and quite possibly a prerequisite for the position in general. I should know better, having been schooled in their awesome methodologies but I fear that I was sleeping on the day that the "creating a worship environment through strategic hair styles" lecture was given. Not that I can say much, since
my head right now resembles Tigger due to the youth group raising well past their fundraising goal. (Craig K. and I took one for the team) Anyway, our worship is kick-a$$, so they can
go Brillocream away and it shall not faze me.

By the way, feel free to use the "square" joke if you go back to visit, or in light conversation in general. For example, visit the church right down the road from them and remark, "Yeah,
we checked out [insert foursquare church name here] last week, and they seemed to be an ok bunch of 'Squares. Hey, do you serve the good donuts here? In my expert opinion, the quality of donut served tells a lot about what your church feels about visitors. That church we were at last week had weak donuts...which is why we're here with you today instead." Then nod knowingly, with an "insider" mannerism, as if you are sharing the greatest principle to all church growth and
outreach strategy while chomping into another donut.

The amazing thing is that not only will they laugh with you at the derogatory joke made at the expense of their "Christian Cousins" down the road, they will actually give consideration to your analysis of all their hospitality refreshment and do one of two things:

1) A successful church will try to steer you away from any "low-quality" baked goods and into the bookstore where you can find the latest copy of whatever new fad inspirational book has hit the market, thus reestablishing their position as the church in the know, and creating in you, the visitor, a sense that your spiritual welfare is in very well-kept, knowledgeable hands.

2) A struggling church will immediately explain that all items in the hospitality area are part of a missions outreach fundraising program and that though the store-bought goods may be cheap and low-quality, there is reassurance in remembering that it is still better than what "they" have and therefore we should all be grateful that we don't live in "that" part of the world.

I would recommend bringing out the
Field Guide and brushing up on some of the finer points of visiting churches. Go in expecting the best, but when things take a turn, you'll be prepared for each encounter and will know how to escape.

Write that down, kids...

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