I get so confused and okay...hacked off when I hear people complaining about the approaches ministries use to reach different crowds if it is not what they are used to reaching out. Now, I am going to talk specifically about churches/ministries that reach the disenfranchised, the outcasts, etc. Churches all over talk about reaching the lost. Specifically this time of year churches will say it all the more, "WE MUST DO THINGS TO DRAW THEM IN." Sad part is, the thing they do is default to a cookie cutter musical by David T. Clydesdale or some other Word records product (look at cantata songbooks to notice this) and expect this to draw in everyone. This may draw in people to the churches doing that, and that is great! If you are a middle of the road church out to win people from middle and upper class suburbs than fine...run with it! Those people need the Lord as much as anyone. I am quite confident the ministries I know that reach a different type of crowd don't really talk down about those kinds of churches. Honestly, after growing up in a church where we did those musicals...it was fun and it reached people. I listen to them now after changing my focus on who God is calling me to reach and it makes my ears want to bleed. But, each to their own...we have to reach everyone. I am not sure you will find one church who would not agree with the fact, we have to reach everyone.
If this is the case than why do those who go to a church that caters to a nice suburban crowd that reaches people in happy subdivisions get blown out of shape by those of us trying to reach a different crowd? I have run into this when we hosted "Leper/Grave Robber." Just as cookie cutter cantata's may seem attractive to contemporary adults (probably not the teens) so does the music we used in concert cater to the goth/punk/rock/industrial crowd. Pre-concert music for a cantata might be Hillsongs, Maranatha, etc. Which is fine because when "Potters Hand" comes on, people in the audience immediately say..."OH, I LOVE THIS SONG!" The same can be said about a concert like "Grave Robber". I made a playlist on my iPod which I was quite confident that crowd would know. All of a sudden "Tourniquet-Psycho Surgery" would come on and many of the crowd knew it. It would go to "Celldweller" doing a song called "Switchback" and immediately talk went to the days of when they saw them in concert as "Circle of Dust". These are all Christian bands that are reaching a different sub-culture. Guess what though? We are all getting the job done. Some churches...many churches are reaching the typical crowd...AND THAT IS GREAT! It would be dumb of me to talk ill of that because everyone needs a savior (sounds like a song). The same stands true for churches/ministries that are trying to reach a different sub-culture. LIKE IT OR NOT they aren't coming to a "Traditional Christmas" cantata featuring songs in corny arrangements from the 90's.
So what do we do with this sub-culture of outcasts? They won't come to our church event so we write them off? I am quite confident that would make God sick! NO! We first have to take the time to understand that culture and realize it is who they are. Sure they might grow out of it but what if they don't? So Radiant Fellowship decided to embrace them and make Christmas special for these people and straight up rocked the house with these bands. I PROMISE YOU these bands were more ministry oriented and had more to say than many contemporary Christian artists gracing our churches for a FAT honorarium only to be treated like a diva. Grave Robber laid it out there in full form the salvation message and takes the time to talk afterward...so does Leper and many other bands like this. We really are doing the same thing but to different crowds and that is okay...why get ticked?
This is what I would challenge you to do however...this is an open invite. This July when Grave Robber is back at Radiant Fellowship, come and attend...let me introduce you to the band and the many people who will come to see them. I would love for you to get to know them. If you were here for this concert a few days ago...you would have spoken to a twenty something who got kicked out of church never to return. Guess what? He was at Grave Robber/Leper concert and LOVED IT (many more stories like this)! I DARE ANYONE who is not comfortable with this crowd to come and take it in (bring ear plugs). You really want your world expanded? Join me for a day at Cornerstone and I will introduce you to my friends at Asylum ministries where their sole purpose is to reach Goths! I will introduce you to my friend and pastor, Pastor Bob Beeman who goes overseas to do "black metal festivals". You will be scared with places I take you but you can be rest assured Jesus is there. What about "Church at the Pub?" Come and join me and our team as we go into the pub and talk to people.When is the last time some of us in churches ever walked into a bar/pub to just talk and love people? Yes...Jesus is in the pub.
We get excited for missionaries that go into foreign lands and learn the culture in order to reach the people. If a missionary has to look a certain way, get a marking, etc. we cheer them on and say go for it! We even brag to our friends stateside and say how cutting edge they are. Heck...we even throw a lot of money behind it. If someone in the U.S.A. reaches out to a different crowd and breaks away from "the norm" we can sometimes think it is ungodly by the look, the sound, etc. We are missionaries at home and we do what needs to be done to reach people that others have written off. THIS EXCITES ME! If you don't understand it...join me for Cornerstone, Church at the Pub, walking the streets at night to talk to people and if you are used to the suburban life in a sub-division world...you will find God is with the outcasts and you will be taken to some very dark places...and you might just like it!