One of the first interrogatives that’s been asked of me by Pastors I consulted about The Pilgrimage is “Tell me about your church. What makes it different? Why would people come there instead of down the street?” It’s an obvious set of questions, but I never really offered straight answers to them. I had the answers, but not in any cohesive way that I could throw out into an elevator speech.
I always attempted to answer those questions over the course of an hour’s lunch in bouts of temporary verbal clarity and gusts of up to one hundred words a minute followed by long thoughtful pauses to mentally compose more thoughts into cohesiveness. I was eventually successful in passing along my vision but only because I was in the company of Pastor friends who were genuinely interested in helping me with my vision and willing to sit and wait and listen while I spouted nonsensical chaos randomly interspersed with thoughts of brilliance.
Inevitably they would follow the conversation with a comment like “you need to work on composing your idea better.” There was always a hint of trepidation in that last comment as if they wondered if because I could not yet compose my vision into concise verbiage if it was indeed the right time for me to move forward. I believe it gave them a sense of cautious nervousness for me. For me I took it as a challenge- compose my idea and move forward.
So here it is. Here is the short version of what we hope to do at The Pilgrimage. It’s only a micro-version meant to invite more questions that will allow me to clarify more points, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask away.
The Pilgrimage exists to expand the bounds of Christian involvement into the arena of social justice as a church. For too many years I have sat on the sidelines and allowed others to do the hard work for me in these areas. I hope to expose people to the Gospel of Christ as a life of action, not just a one-time salvation event followed by a lifetime of inaction.
We’re not a church. We’re a movement where church happens. Our church will be a group of believers who are actively involved in helping others and living out our faith through action. Many of our attendees will be believers who are already actively involved and others will be believers who would like to get involved but don’t know how. One Pastor referred to us as a niche church. My hope is to expose others to the various areas of social justice in the hope that they will find one that they can be passionate about.
We will be a incredibly diverse group of Christians who will likely encompass various political, demographic, social, and childhood religious experiences. Not everyone will be comfortable at The Pilgrimage, and we won’t be trying to reach everyone. We won’t be a ‘seeker’ church, looking to reach the lost as our main goal, unless those ‘seekers’ are looking to become involved in both spiritual and social efforts. You’d be surprised how many people there are like that. They want to help others, but they also desire a grounding in something larger and more powerful than themselves. They’re not finding an outlet for that in traditional churches.
Our services will be so different that there won’t be any labeling of contemporary or traditional. We won’t fit into either. We’ll incorporate so many different elements into our services that it will seem more like a university classroom than a church service. The idea is that the entire experience will feel like a cafe where a lecture is going on. There may be noise, interruptions from kids, or people getting up for more coffee or snacks. The main service may be me speaking, doing an interview, or hosting a video. Have no doubt that it will be church, but know that it will be different.
So there you go. I hope it makes sense, at least on the basic idea level. You’ll simply have to attend if you really want to see how it works. I hope you do.