I like quirky churches.
And I’m pretty sure God does, too.
Just take a look at the astonishing variety of churches in the New Testament. Not to mention the churches and church leaders he’s used in the last 2,000 years.
Some churches stay small because they’re boring. Some churches get big and then get boring.
Other churches stay small because they stay quirky. We don’t need less of them. We need more of them. And we don’t need them to be less quirky. We need them to turn the quirky up!
If your church is being genuine in its expression of the gospel and staying true to yourself, we celebrate you.
If your church is reaching a segment of society no one else is reaching, we celebrate you.
If your church causes churchy people to shake their heads in confusion at the way you do things, we celebrate you.
Quirky Is About Honesty and Boldness
If your idea of quirky is to play games with foundational biblical theology, that’s not quirky, that’s heresy. Quirky churches don’t change the things that matter. They cling to them for dear life.
If your idea of quirky is trying to be cool and relevant – nope, not that either. The cool kids don’t do quirky. They do cool. As I wrote about in People Are Leaving for the Cool New Church! Now What?, being cool is overrated.
Quirky churches aren’t stuck in old, dry, irrelevant ruts, either. Genuinely following Jesus will always keep us from that.
So quirky churches don’t mess with the fundamentals. And they don’t worry about passing fads. They’re not chasing cultural relevance. But they are contextually real.
Quirky churches dare to do the Bible stuff in a way that works for them and the people God is calling them to reach. No matter how strange it looks to everyone else.
Quirky churches care more about communicating truthfully, living with integrity and training passionate disciples than they care about worshiping the false idol of technical excellence.
That requires honesty. Brutal honesty. Honesty that doesn’t care about accolades, but lives a life of rawness and realism.
Why Is Everyone Rushing to Be Boring?
Too many churches, even churches that start with a spirit of passion and quirkiness, are too quick to trade quirky for safe. Safe is boring.
Boring churches won’t change the world. But the quirky ones might.
In established churches, doing quirky is harder. And if you force it, you won’t get quirky, you’ll get weird. And you’ll probably get fired.
So don’t aim for quirky, aim for genuine. Quirkiness should never be our goal. But we need to celebrate it when it happens as the byproduct and the evidence of being genuine.
If you’re a church planter, I want to encourage you to keep the quirky, entrepreneurial spirit alive as long as possible.
Why does it seem like so many church planters are in a rush for their churches to become as dull as the rest of us?
If you have people who are willing to plant a church with you, they’ve already demonstrated that they’re quirkier, bolder and more adventurous than 90% of the population – and maybe 99% of the church population.
Why would we want to stifle that creative, quirky adventurous spirit any sooner than we have to?
Stay Quirky, My Friends
So, to all the quirky churches and their leaders – both new and established – I say this.
Experiment, fail, have fun and stay quirky as long as possible. But above all, stay true to how God made you – and how he called you to minister.
Institutionalism will come. Like an unstoppable virus, it will come. Don’t rush into it. It will rush to you, soon enough.
Yes, it’s more comfortable to be less quirky. And comfort makes for an easier life. It might even build a bigger church. But comfort never makes a great church.
One of the reasons I’m such a fan of small churches is that small churches can stick with being unique, genuine and quirky more easily than big ones.
We can experiment. We can make mistakes. We can learn and grow. So, while you’re small, use your size to your quirky advantage.
Copyright © 2015 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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