Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Church Experiment

Last Sunday my wife and I, along with some friends, conducted a "church experiment" of sorts. A few months back we were visiting a church and happened to drive by another church just as they were letting out of services. The building was very good sized so we drove through the parking lot just to take a look and see the name of the church. Every single person who was exiting the building was dressed up. All the men had on suits and ties and all the women were in dresses. At this point we knew that this church was somewhat traditional but we wondered if it might also be legalistic.

We looked up the church online and discovered that they had a website but the only thing on the website was the name of the church, their location and the times of their services. There was no statement of faith nor were there any pictures or any information about the church leaders. So we decided that this Sunday we would attend, not knowing what to expect. But to add a type of "experiment" to the visit we decided that all 6 of us would dress very casual, wearing jeans and sweaters. We wondered how we would be viewed? Would we be made to feel welcome? Would they automatically see us as unbelievers that needed to be converted? I have to be honest, we were expecting a negative reaction.

When we first entered the building only one person really spoke to us. But as we entered the sanctuary that quickly changed. Several people came up and shook our hands and welcomed us, thanking us for visiting. But then my cover got blown. Though this church was far enough away that I expected no one would recognize me, one teenage girl did. As she was talking with me the Pastor of the church came up to introduce himself to us and she quickly introduced me as a pastor. He even welcomed us from the pulpit, mentioning that I was a pastor. So, the "experiment" got blown - but we were very pleasantly impressed with the friendliness of this church. After the service was over, many folks talked to us and the pastor also showed us some additional special attention.

Now as far as the service itself, it was like walking back in time and attending the church I did in my childhood back in the 1970's. But we did come to realize that this church has a variety of outreach ministries. We had a good time afterwards talking about our "experiment" over some lasagna and discussing where our worship journey would take us next Sunday.

Be sure to read my other blog entitled "Hope for Hurting Pastors" at www.hurtingpastor.blogspot.com or emailing me at skdistler@gmail.com


kimmer4life said...

This actually sounds kinda fun!

Pastor Scott said...

I have to admit, Kim, it really was fun!

Craig Myers said...


I am a little troubled by your assumption that because people dress in suits and ties and dresses that a church would be legalistic.

Would it be fair for someone else to assume that because people dress in sweaters and jeans that the church they attend would be antinomian?

I have never been held at a distance by more "conservative" churches, but when showing up at "casual" churches, my family and I have been received in a chilly manner.

Just askin'!

Pastor Scott said...

You are right, Craig. It is never proper to label someone by their outward appearance. That was the reason for the experiment - to see if dress would make a difference. Yes, I expected a colder treatment due to the dress I saw which was a worng assumption on my part. We soon found out that this was not the case which was very refreshing. Thanks for commenting.

Diane said...

Just wishing, myself included, that we as Christians would drop the appearances and show people the pain and hurt that we suffer. I think we try to look too much like we have it all together and that turns non-christians from wanting to associate with us. It's hard to feel a part when you feel your life is a mess and everyone else's is great (which If we could see inside we would know that is not true) Always appreciated when you preached on Romans 8:28

Pastor Scott said...

I think you are right, Diane. We all need to "be real" and take off any masks of hypocrisy that we tend to put on - especially when we are at church. Thanks for commenting. Have a great day!

Corey said...

To Diane....

Amen! As I am sure you know, all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. All four of these applications are loaded with His Grace...

There is one passage that the Holy Spirit has led me to meditate on over and over. There are many, many others, but for some reason I have been led to review and study
2 Cor 5 (Our Heavenly Dwellng)

I share this with you, via Scott's blog, in the hope the Spirit will use it to comfort you...

2 Corinthians 5 (ESV)
Our Heavenly Dwelling
1For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

The Ministry of Reconciliation
11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Pastor Scott said...

Thanks, Corey, Hope you are doing well, brother. Blessings!