The next stop in my faith journey involved diving deep into a new ministry start. As I journaled last week–we had done a survey on Sunday mornings of all the dorm sleepers. Several of us had been reading up on the idea of a “seeker-sensitive” Church. We didn’t feel like the people we were going after were really “seeking” anything… but we liked the seeker stuff anyway. So we called our group the “sleepers,” and we intended to do something that might be a “sleeper-sensitive Church.” We got out a white board while analyzing the results of the survey… we noticed a few trends.
The College Student “Sleepers” Who Were Not Going To Church Felt:
- Sermons were way too long–perhaps 3x as long as they should be. They checked out at 10 minutes.
- Church was too early on Sunday morning; they preferred going to public events at night.
- The music was antiquated at all Churches. No church in town connected with their style of music.
- There was nothing funny at Church; nothing made you laugh, unless you were making fun of it.
- The use of multi-media was minimal; creative arts were unused.
There were other trends too, but these were the ones I recall. We got out the markers and started to dream. I and another girl in the leadership team had the results early, and the prior weekend I was thinking about them while driving to Ohio for an event. On the way back I got to dreaming on my own while driving (a good time to do that, as long as you’re day dreaming, and not sleeping.) I had a stack of post-it notes with me and a sharpie, and started to write down ideas and stick them on the window shield. After an hour I had so many ideas I had trouble seeing the road, so I took them down and took them to the meeting with the whiteboard.
At the meeting we dreamed up an entirely new services for our fledgling ministry with around 90 people in it. We would radically change everything we did for this “sleeper” audience–trying to reach them. The service would be on Friday night, not Sunday morning–date night for the Sleepers, but a night with little to do but going to the movies, and that cost money, which they didn’t have. There would be a house band with funny stage skits and compelling videos and a short “spiritual punch” sermon at the end that was just 8 minutes long. We would have a David Letterman-style host with a very funny monologue (this was 1993, so Letterman was hot among the college crew). I noticed a lot of the ideas from the post-it notes on my windshield made it into the final form of our plan. But many new ideas came up too. We thought this new “service” was unlike any service we had been too–it wouldn’t even feel like church at all. Which was exactly what we were hoping We would call it “Friday Night Live” (yes, not very original… but you wont believe what happened next.)