Destroy the Status Quo

November 3rd, 2017

Ten years ago, a group of twenty-five people set out to launch a new church named Impact United Methodist Church. Ten years later, the dream is a reality, and Impact continues to destroy the status quo. During the early days of placing our vision on paper and computer screens, a time of novelty and idealism drove a team of twenty-five people and caused us to believe that all things were possible if we believed. I still believe all things are possible, and more than ever, I believe God is calling on churches to destroy the status quo.

For the launch of our alternative faith community, the status quo was targeted in three critical areas: hospitality, technology, and worship design. Often churches get stuck in a pattern of doing the same programs the same way, while expecting new and dynamic results. But no matter how well-intentioned the process is, doing the same thing leaves churches and church leaders with lackluster results and diminishing returns on time, investments, and resources. Our team discovered that many existing churches began to accept the status quo and forgot what it meant to live the verse in John’s Gospel, “I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10b CEB). “Live life to the fullest” is more than a hyperbole in the biblical text. It’s a mandate for those who believe in Jesus Christ and for organizations that lift up the banner of Christ’s body. Status quo standards weren’t meant to be accepted but destroyed, and that is what we set out to do with hospitality, technology, and worship design. By focusing on these three key areas, we showed how our faith community would be different and positively disruptive in the midst of forty nearby churches. 

First, hospitality is more than welcoming people and offering coffee before they enter the worship space. Extreme hospitality reinforces the principle that all people are welcome, all people are worthy, and all people have a place. Second, this mandate of fullness emphasizes that technology is not an enemy but rather an essential tool to reach more people and receive more resources. Because of technology, we can celebrate that we currently receive more than fifty percent of our generosity via digital giving platforms such as PayPal and giving kiosks. Third, worship design is one of the most crucial disrupters in an alternative faith community. By disruption we don’t mean offering traditional, modern, or contemporary worship, but rather we offer excellent worship that focuses on reaching new people and grows the faith commitment of existing people through impactful worship experiences.

Of course, the essentials of hospitality, technology, and worship design are common in any faith community, but the difference at Impact is that we don’t allow these areas to become status quo or static; we constantly focus on these areas and challenge our teams to find new ways of practicing hospitality, to search for innovative technology systems to help us connect people to Christ, and to never be satisfied with worship as it is. We know that worship is ever evolving, and like the apostles in the upper room at the birth of the church, we remain always open to the move of the Holy Spirit. Recently, a well-known restaurant near our congregation discontinued a long-standing menu item because it no longer fit the mission and purpose of the company. I truly loved this food, but I understood why the company must keep the mission and purpose in the forefront as they continue to evolve. Although I was a little disappointed, I still support the restaurant and believe they made the right decision. What if more churches kept their mission and purpose in the forefront and continued to develop new ways to reach both their existing members and new people? There would be a seismic shift in the way we organize and deploy our gifts.

One of the most spectacular expressions of hospitality, technology, and worship design took place on a Sunday when we decided to give our offering away. For a new church, this decision was a seismic shift and a major disruption. As worshippers entered the space, they were given a simple index card. As the offering time approached, we asked them to write the name of a person or organization that was in need of a financial blessing on their cards. After each person finished writing, we asked them to donate the amount they were going to give in the offering to the name or organization on the card instead. We could hear a pin drop once the request was made. Little did we know, it would create a positive disruption in the life of our church that set us on the course of “Doing Church Differently™.” In that great act, we utilized extreme hospitality, creative worship, and technology by encouraging people to share their generosity beyond the offering plates, directly with those in need, via online platforms. Since then, we have continued to seek God’s will for ways to inspire and inform people to go to the next level and destroy the status quo.

Destroying the status quo is practiced by other faith communities around the world, but it still needs to be lifted up by example and practiced by many more churches. If every church made a conscious and spiritual decision to destroy the status quo in their communities, the world would be a better place, and the church would be a reflection of Jesus Christ.

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