Breaking the Moldy Sunday Mold

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This city has one of the highest unchurched populations in the
country. It may just foretell the future. And that may be a good
thing.

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There’s an innovative church here that’s bucking the odds. It’s
growing. And not just in numbers, but in life change and commitment
to Christ.

Union Church,
in the middle of secular Seattle, sprouted in 2006. But this is no
ordinary cloned church plant. On your first visit you might find
the pastor sitting in a semi-circle with other worshippers. On your
next visit you might find the place deserted-everybody gone on a
Sunday morning.

Pastor James B. Notkin explained the pioneers of Union decided
from the get-go they didn’t want to be shackled by the status quo
of church as we know it. And he wasn’t drawn to the celebrity
pastor model that characterizes many new church plants. He asked,
“What’s going to grow disciples?”

What resulted was a fresh approach to invite people to focus on
three things: a commitment to Christ, the work of Christ, and the
Body of Christ. The congregation rotates among these focal points
from week to week.

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Second Sunday


The first and third Sundays of the month feature a fairly
typical mix of music, prayer, preaching, scripture and communion.
But the second Sunday breaks the congregation into small discussion
groups that dig into God’s message for them. And every fourth
Sunday the members don’t do a church service, they do a service
church. They disperse around the city to serve others in various
ways. Notkin said, “People understand this is all worship.”

This changed-up worship appeals to the unchurched, the
dechurched, and “those who’ve been in the pews for decades but felt
they weren’t growing,” Notkin said. “They’ve really embraced
it.”

The discussion-oriented Sundays are bringing many men back to
church. They really appreciate the give-and-take nature of the
message.


Service Sunday


The hands-on service activities on the fourth Sundays have
provided a surprising outreach effect. Notkin thought the people
they serve would perhaps eventually want to participate in Union’s
church life. But, more often, unchurched people have accompanied
Union members on the service Sundays, enjoyed the relationships,
and have eventually plugged in to Union on the other Sundays.

After reading our book, 
Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore
,
people often ask me for examples of churches that exhibit what we
call the four Acts of Love-Radical Hospitality, Fearless
Conversation, Genuine Humility, and Divine Anticipation. Seattle’s
Union provides a growing example-and just maybe a glimpse of the
future.

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About Author

Thom Schultz

Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

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