Posted By: Tim Mannin
ENTRY TWELVE in our writing series, EIGHTEEN, which is all about some of in's and out's of this church.
One of the things I feel like people are always trying to figure out about us is…what “type” of church we are. Sometimes the question is searching for some sort of denominational affiliation or worship style. I get it…it’s normal to try and categorize churches in “types.” Once something has a label, it makes it easier to agree with, dismiss, or criticize. The “type” of church question is often slanted towards trying to understand things such as; do we lean more liberal or conservative? Are we more red or blue?
Other "Christian subculture" examples are: Is our worship style traditional, contemporary, or Blue Like Jazz? Do we like Rob Bell or John Piper? Are we a Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church or a Francis Chan, Crazy Love church? Do we believe in church growth or church health? Do we think Chick-Fil-A should remain closed on Sundays or open up? The questions about the ‘type’ of church we are can be that ridiculous!
So many churches identify who they are by the type of church model they adopt or what Christian leaders they identify with the most. Nothing is inherently wrong with this, but where are we all on this? Do we adhere to a particular “type” of church model?
As a new church plant, we are working to sink roots in an urban area of OKC, therefore some people immediately assume we must be a missional church. The missional label is not necessarily a good or bad label, however it’s a label that can be ambiguous and hard for many to understand and even explain. To some it means doing church with a lot of missions activity, while others believe it’s a theological perspective on church and life. Some would even say it’s a label that is “trendy” and has an empty core to its meaning. We certainly believe in God’s mission and that He has called the Church to join him in His mission to restore his creation. But…are we a missional church?
The antithesis to missional in many church model conversations is attractional. Purely attractional churches are aimed at reaching out to the community by attracting crowds typically through mediums such as; special events, highly purposed and prioritized Sunday worship services, and marketing and invitational strategies to get people in the door. The big knock on attractional churches is often connected to the amount of resources that are spent to get people to show up and once people show up--many of them struggle to actually disciple them.
The Oklahoma City metro certainly has a few dominant styles or types of churches. Most people want to know if we are more like a Baptist church, a Pentecostal church, or like Life Church? Do you want to be a big, medium, or small church? These questions aren’t typically rooted in theological identity – they are more about style, flash, vibe, or past experience.
At some level I understand this. Everyone deserves to know some essentials of the church they go to. People certainly should understand the theological framework of the church. Everyone deserves to know if there are certain methodologies that create expectations for the people of the church. Creating this picture of the church is something we are doing at OKC Community and will continue to do.
Here’s the thing though…
We’ve intentionally decided that we aren’t trying to be a certain “type” of church. We aren’t emulating some model, following the leadership of a certain pastor, or an inspiring book. We can honestly say that although we learn from others, we aren’t adopting any particular church models. We can sincerely say that we are committed to God’s mission and believe that it calls us to live missionally, however we don’t wear the label of missional like it’s some badge of honor. With hopeful anticipation we can say that we make efforts for our church, and namely the gospel, to be attractive, yet we are mindful of our resources and our ability and energy spent on making disciples. As you can see being a type of church is hard to pinpoint.
So what are we about?
We are about many things…but a real place to begin is that we want to be pure, authentic, and clear in all that we do. Sadly, many people’s church experiences have not been that. Many of us have negative, impure, inauthentic, and murky stories about our church experiences that have left us hurt and frustrated. OKC Community simply wants to be pure, authentic, and crystal clear about who we are, what we do, how we can help, where we struggle, and what God is really doing.
These thoughts have everything to do with the type of church we want to be. First, we want to be the type of church you can trust. Once we gain your trust, we want to help you in the ways of following Jesus. We’ve been intentionally slow to adopt models or certain terminology because we honestly believe the Lord is doing something within OKC Community that we are supposed to allow to come to life. Our church doesn’t lack vision in the type of church we are supposed to BE – yet we remain patient in some of the more physical things we need (like buildings) and will do (like programs and various ministries).
We realize we are part of a long story of the Church. We are thankful to be a part of the story of the Church that has been happening since Jesus commissioned us. So when someone says what type of church are you…our answer is, “We aren’t necessarily a “type” of church – we are simply a church. We just want to BE the church the best way we know how.
We aren’t trying to be missional or attractional, red or blue, big or small, traditional or contemporary, or whatever. Although we may be a little of a lot of those things.
We hope it’s acceptable to say that…we…are…a…church.
Plain and simple. Pure and authentic.
We hope that’s not only acceptable…but refreshing.