Applying Principle #1

Last time I explained the first principle we apply to our Sunday morning services in an attempt to use them to reach lost people – Uncross Arms. Today I’ll share a few ways we apply that principle, but I would encourage you to wrestle with this and figure out how you need to apply the principle in your setting.

We have three locations – two meet in high schools and one in a bar. Outside of each of our locations we place signs designed to start busting people’s stereotypes before they even enter the building. Some are humorous (“Welcome to Forefront, the Church You’re Imaginary Friend Keeps Talking About“), some are more thought provoking (“Revolution Already in Progress”).

When you walk in there is music thumping. It feels like a party. All of the songs we play pre-service are secular. Christians disagree with this, but we don’t care because we’re not trying to reach Christians. (In fact, we hope that playing secular music in the lobby will make church-hopping Christians decide that our church is not for them, because we don’t want them.) Our hope is that playing hot songs off the radio will cause a connection with new people walking in. And it works. Repeatedly people have told me, “I’ll never forget the first time I showed up. I walked in and you guys were playing one of my favorite songs in the lobby. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that Christians listen to the same music I do!” Already their arms are uncrossing.

When you enter the auditorium and take your seat the same music is cranking, and a series of slides appear on the screen. Some offer helpful information about our church, but more are just goofy. You’ll see strange pictures of strange things, read bizarre facts, laugh at funny graphics.

The service starts when our band walks on stage. It looks like a band you’d see on MTV or at a concert. This means there’s a singer who plays guitar, a bass guitarist, a drummer – maybe another guitarist. There are not three or four singers standing next to each other. It’s not a band that has six guitarists and two keyboardists and three drummers. Churches like to do this. I’m not sure why, but I assume it’s because they feel like everyone with any talent or desire to be in the band has to be in the band. It’s not the end of the world to have a ridiculously large band, but it will look unnatural to most non-Christians.

The band starts playing, and it’s a song off the radio. The new person is thinking, “Wait a second, I know this song. I like this song! And this is a church band … and they’re actually playing it well!”

After the song a guy walks out, welcomes everyone, and introduces the theme for the day. He then leads into a creative element. For us it’s typically humor-based (for examples check out our web site), but that’s just who we are. It doesn’t have to be funny – it has to uncross arms.

So we’re now six or seven minutes into the service and nothing especially “spiritual” has happened but hopefully new people are now opened up and ready to experience something spiritual.

Those are some ways we apply principle #1. How will you apply it? Next time we’ll look at principle #2.

Until then … go for it on fourth and one.

– Featured on