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Winter 2005 Rapport: Radical Dependence on the Spirit: Reaching Post-Chrisitan America

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Kids bring their parents to a service called The Buzz.

In the Summer 2003 issue of Rapport (page 9), we highlighted Anthony Scoma (M.Div. 2002), who was beginning Southwest Family Fellowship, a church plant among the post-Christian population in Austin, Texas. The church, which meets in a shopping mall, has grown from a core of 23 to 100, 80% of whom were not in church before coming to Southwest Family Fellowship. Anthony describes their ministry philosophy.

 

 

Journey Mentality

Our goal is to accept people without assuming where they are in their spiritual journey. We encourage non-Christian visitors to feel they are a part of our church—as if they belong—even before they make a commitment to Christ.

Pastor Anthony Scoma, Southwest Family Fellowship

When a core member brought a co-worker one Sunday, I could tell the visitor was moved by what she had experienced. Later, when her friend asked what she thought of the church, the woman replied, “It was great. Everybody was so friendly, and I felt really good there. Do you think it would be rude if I went back?” Taken aback by the question, our member asked what she meant. The visitor replied, “Well, I really don’t believe all that [about Christianity]. I mean I don’t not believe it either, but I really liked being there.” When our member explained the church’s philosophy, the visitor was ecstatic.

This young woman, whose mother is a practicing witch, had been to a church only once before and was in the process of searching for her spiritual path. She had been reading books about Islam, Buddhism and Catholicism, but she loved what she experienced in the body of Christ at our church. Although not yet a believer, she has attended services, including mid-week prayer meetings, nearly every week for five months.

Family Focus

When young adults have kids, their priorities shift. What might be different about postmodern parents is that they want to be hands-on with their kids’ development. We are committed to encouraging families to take a spiritual journey together. Before the main Sunday morning service, kids bring their parents to The Buzz, a Bible-based, interactive service that features drama, music and video. Each month the leaders highlight a different value such as discipline, trust or cooperation. Even secular parents want their kids to learn these values, and our church has grown because of this focus.

When kids come to The Buzz, they want to bring their friends. One girl came with a classmate for three months before her parents visited. Her mom, who had grown up as a Buddhist, told us her daughter was writing notes like, “Dear God, hope you have a good week.”

She had never seen anyone display a personal relationship with God like that. The girl’s father eventually started attending, and now the entire family—although still on a journey of faith—comes regularly.

Authenticity

Authenticity and respect are huge keys to communicating effectively with our audience. Our demographic is among the most educated in the nation and, like many postmoderns, on the lookout for manipulation and arrogance. While not apologizing for the Bible, my approach to preaching is different from the traditional Pentecostal church. The biggest difference is in the closing. I encourage a decision but do not push for one. I lay out the information clearly and leave the choice up to them. This comes from a respect for people’s God-given intellect and decision-making ability and my deep trust in the Holy Spirit to change hearts. The Spirit of Christ alone turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Pastor Scoma with his core leadership group.


 

 

 

 

 

Updated: Monday, January 10, 2005 3:43 PM

 

 
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