Keep It Weird
Recently I visited my son Kyle in Austin, Texas where the city’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird.”
We worshiped at his church, Vox Veniae. http://voxveniae.com
The church is filled with children and people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I have visited with Kyle over the last three years, and watched the amazing growth of this church. For the Sunday morning worship service it was standing room only. Also, they have planted a new church (they call it New Table) in South Austin with a second New Table being planted in North Austin.
It’s a solid Christian church, started by the Chinese church and now affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church. They preach Jesus and have Worship, Confession, Scripture, Prayer, Eucharist and a Benediction at their weekly Sunday service. There are no programs or hymnals; rather everything is projected on large screen TVs.
But, how weird for a life-long Presbyterian like me. This is church? Worship is in a shabby, run-down building located in a sketchy area of East Austin. Homeless people from the neighborhood join the worship service and are a welcome part of the community.
The church emphasizes community and connection in various ways. After worship you can join others for lunch at a different local restaurant each week. They have a weekly happy hour— located at a Bake Shop & Beer Garden! Church groups at a bar? Really? Also there are “Slashies” which are meet-up groups with interests in things like crafts, biking, hiking and line dancing.
The members support various missions, generally by volunteering, for example at a mobile “Loaves and Fishes” program (rather than at a fixed site).
Or is this weird? As we have moved into ECO, our new denomination values and prioritizes lifting up the Gospel, vigorously planting churches to expand the Kingdom of God and growing with an emerging generation of leaders.
Does that mean we have to consider looking at church a bit differently and trying some new things like what I witnessed at this young and growing church in Austin?
Indeed, “keep it weird” just might be something we should consider as we look to the future of Hope Church.
Robin Ruegg, Hope Elder