Liquid Church

Last week, I went with a friend to the local United Methodist Church.  It was a fairly traditional church without a lot of bells or whistles.  I was a little confused by the children’s sermon on fair-trade coffee, but I won’t go there.  So today, four of us hopped on a train to Morristown to visit Liquid Church, a really creative congregation that has their worship service in the Morristown Hyatt.  We got there a little early and had a chance to spend a few minutes talking with Pastor Tim Lucas.  It was nice to meet him and have him spend a few minutes in conversation.

The service had about 15 minutes of music by their really amazing band, 10 minutes of an infant dedication portion (which had remarkably similar language to our liturgy), a 30 minute sermon (interestingly, a sermon of Craig Groeschel’s piped in for this week), and about 5 to 10 minutes of announcements and offering (done simultaneously).

More than anything, I felt the stark contrast between the two churches.  Liquid creatively uses public space and the blend between those in worship and the active hotel lobby was very cool.  Imagine about 250 worshippers hanging in the lobby of a Hyatt Regency.  There was a sense of expectancy in the worship experience, and people seemed to intently pay attention to the message (at Liquid, that is).  I tried to imagine myself entering as a non or nominal Christian.  From that perspective, I would have certainly visited Liquid again.

I find myself torn in many ways between the two ways of doing ministry.  I value the sacramental side of our tradition and the very real means of grace that we experience, yet I also sometimes wish we had more experiential worship and messages like I heard today.  If we could somehow blend the two, we’d be far better off.  It seems to me that we (not all of us, but some of us) aren’t nearly as intentional as Liquid about expecting visitors who have a spiritual hunger and thirst.  I know I’m just seeing the worship setting, but isn’t that what most folks encounter on their first visit to our congregations?

All in all, I want more.  I expect more out of us as a denomination.  Can we be brave enough to start a church that meets in a hotel?  Can we create creative and cutting-edge ministries that also carry the richness of our spiritual and sacramental tradition?  I really want to know.

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6 thoughts on “Liquid Church

  1. Difficult, huh. I’m not sure I see where you’re coming from, having grown up in the “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist” environment. My preference would be to strip down our religion/religiosity and to worship God in the complete emptiness of ourselves.

    I’m so glad you were able to check out LQD. I’m guessing you checked out the 11AM service (from the mention of the baby dedication). And please tell me that you picked up your gift bag on the way out. 🙂

    Back to the topic. I don’t really know anything about the Methodist Church, so it’s not really my place to make any statements, but I like to be optimistic. The reason it works at LQD is that we do away with any tradition. But I don’t doubt that God could perform something great within your church while allowing you to maintain your traditions. It’s what makes you you.

    But one of the more successful things about LQD stems from the Welcome Center and Greeting Team. Pulling people’s anxiety levels down is vital to helping them find a nurturing spiritual home. And that’s our goal at the Welcome Center. We want to make you feel like you’ve come home.

    If you’re interested in corresponding, I’d love to put you in touch with some resources to give you ideas. While you have the barrier of a denomination title (something that appears to turn off most of the unchurched… most notably the title Baptist, but that could be because I am one), there’s still a lot of creativity that can be implemented in churches of your faith.

  2. It was the 11AM service and yes, the welcome and greeting team did a great job. I loved all the touches, like having someone there to fill out our nametags. The culture of everyone wearing nametags is also impressive. Even though I’m a pastor, I’m still a little nervous upon entering a church. You guys did a great job minimizing that, and I’m sure others feel the same.

    I definitely appreciate your comments. You guys are in a totally different context than we are out in the “buckle of the bible belt,” and that makes for some interesting differences.

  3. Wow. . . And here I was thinking Greenville, SC, was the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”! (I graduated from Bob Jones Univ. . . please don’t advertise that 😉 )

    And you’re welcome! The chocolate bar wrapper was designed by my best friend Chaz Russo. Much of his work is scattered around LQD. His blog is at http://theoneandonlyz.blogspot.com

    And thanks for your kind comments about our church. After leaving my Fundamentalist Baptist tradition, many of my friends from my former church view LQD as a cult. Just ’cause I wear the same T-shirt as everyone else???

    Since you’re in Oklahoma, maybe you should contact Craig Groeschel and/or check out one of the LifeChurch.tv campuses. I don’t doubt those guys are full of fantastic ideas!

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