In 10 days, we’ll arrive at the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. I don’t think many people have thought about it much yet. Here in NJ, we just got through a mini-earthquake, Hurricane Irene and still struggling without power or flooded main streets.
But it’s been 10 years. Yup 10. Many of us are still living like it happened just recently.
While the Gospel is not patriotic to our red white and blue stripes, there is a call to attend to the healing that is still going on. And it’s not just “our people” in the pews every week. This is one event, may I say especially in the northeast, if not NYC Tri-State Area, where 9/11 touched almost every family personally or via someone they know.
Most communities and churches are planning to do something on that date in this country. The question is just who are you trying to remember, and re-unite? This seems to be one of the rare opportunities where the church has the chance to be in a position of leadership within the public square — isn’t this when we can reveal the beacon of light on a hill that we have found in our faith?
Liquid Church is trying to embrace the widest definition of that word “community” and trying to reach out to anyone that wants to walk in the door that Sunday morning, planning six different memorial services for 9/11 in three NJ cities, geographically located in three different counties. The intention is to provide a meaningful way for people to gather and bring loved ones with them to hear a message that, perhaps, only the church can share: hope is something we have to hold onto, even in the darkest hours of our time together here.
I think many churches tend to limit themselves in thinking that by default, they don’t have a chance to the attract *everyone* in a given community to their programs and outreach events. But if we start with such a self-defeating posture, what chance do we really have for a really big win?
This doesn’t mean you have to hype it up and be all splashy in order to gain the the broadest reach, of course. Here’s one creative way that this might be expressed. . .
Since so much of our generation is almost surgically tied to our iPods, and iPhones, music has become a powerful and meaningful way of expression and common experience. American Idol has shown us a little bit of this.
One example of trying to reach outside the normal boundaries that church signals reach is a project that was hatched this past year. Here’s a video that was created to accompany a new song titled, “There is Hope” by Dave Pettigrew. (You can download it for yourself here.)
With music, it seems that there might be less friction for word of mouth to happen. In addition, the spread-factor takes an entirely different route as well. Here’s the song being shared right now:
As you can tell, this message of hope is also something that comes across well via songwriting medium. Hopefully it is one additional means to reach someone that may not normally be in proximity to or responsive to typical communications messaging from churches, but really needs to hear it. Do you see how in this one instance, trying to reach someone on their own terms and inviting them into the fold this way is at the same time — expanding the boundaries of what we might envision the total potential *community* we can engage with?
Is this the message that your church is prepared to send out during this time of need and gathering? If not, where are you going with your 9/11 Sunday message this year?