When I started New Visions Fellowship it was because people were tired of the way church was done and how they felt alienated, especially in the mega churches of the area.
So we took stock, asked questions of people who were not in church but had been at some time in their lives what it would take to get them back in church. Their answers:
1. Don't embarrass us in church with passing an offering plate when we don't have any money that week to put in.
2. No clic's like what we wind up with in small groups, where we are always excluded for one reason or another.
3. Quit beating us in the head with fire and brimstone sermons.
4. Quit entertaining us for an hour. Teach us how to live a Christian life each day and handle the problems that are likely to arise in our lives.
5. Let me participate in a ministry, not shun me because of my looks, lack of money or disability.
OKAY! We listened. And we hope that every other church will start to listen to what the congregations want instead of shoving down their throats what the staff wants the church to be.
1. We don't pass a plate. There is a bowl where offerings are placed as the people have it to give at any time, before, during or after the service.
2. We are a FELLOWSHIP! Not a church! Not a church made up of small groups. No clics. Everyone fellowships with everyone else.
3-4. We take the time to teach people how to understand the life that Jesus led and the examples we can use to live a Christian life and how to deal with crises as they arise.
5. We openly encourage anyone to participate and even start a ministry within our church, especially one that will reach out into the community, not just the other members of the chruch.
So we have what people asked for in place. Yet the people who asked for it have yet to show up. So I'm offering anyone else who may be looking for this in a place where people can come and worship and not have to put up with "church" and "church people."
And I challenge other Pickens County churches to do the same. At least listen to what the congregation wants and needs, and try to meet their needs. Your only mission is to reach people for Christ. But if the people don't want what you're offering, no matter how great you think it might be, then how are you going to reach them?
The challenge is on!