How this Small Congregation is Both Transformational and Emergent.

Engedi Church is a younger congregation with appx. 330 regular attendees / partners aged 50 and under. Pastor Brian keeps the messages real and funny, and the music is contemporary. His church is made up of “flaming liberals, political right wingers, and others who are apolitical – and they are all friends”

What attracts newcomers to Engedi? He replied “It’s the people. We are warm and friendly, not glitzy”

Brian and I further discussed what he sees as the attraction for those who come to a semi-abandoned strip mall for Sunday services when there is a church on every corner in the small community of Holland, Mi. For believers, a significant attraction is the time and emphasis dedicated to outreach. As is prevalent in many emergent churches, Engedi spends much of its energy making connections with those who are on the edges of their well woven community. Yet Engedi’s message is not typically emergent.

The message presented in some emergent churches is that truth is grayed around the edges. While black and white, right and wrong existed strongly in the past, today we need to wrestle with these issues and come to a mediated, fresh experience of truth.

Pastor Brian disagrees. While they make connections with those investigating Christ, by acknowledging the faith journey, God’s word is still presented as unchanging and all-encompassing truth. People in relationship with their God don’t have to defend his word, or confront others. We are on a journey, and accepting others like Christ did doesn’t mean the message changes. The message is one of hope and transformation, and the reason Engedi meets.

The attraction to those who are still seeking, or investigating the claims of Christ is, foremost that they are accepted. Secondly, those investigating Christ are often attracted to Engedi because of their emphasis on social justice and social outreach. In practice this means that a large number of Engedi partners are committed to and involved in compassion based outreach. Twenty five percent of Engedi’s budget is directed toward local and international outreach. While Engedi partners shy away from political causes, they have worked to expand public transportation in their home town and raise support for African relief projects.

In short, the appeal for those partnering with, and investigating Christ at Engedi is outreach. Pastor Brian believes that this the central issue which makes Engedi a transformational and prevailing church. “We present the clear teaching of scriptures. We don’t dumb down the message. The gospel is radical and demanding, calling people back to Christ. The demands of the gospel call us to create a new community, and God expects us to take action. The purpose of Engedi is to create meaningful change in people lives in that direction.”

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Engedi Church – a Small Congregation with Big Ideas.

Engedi Church ( http://www.engedichurch.com ) began meeting in a school cafe on Oct 5, 2005. A daughter of large and successful Central Wesleyan Church (CWC) in Holland Mi., Engedi was birthed by Pastor Brian Aulick and a small group of congregants who wanted to be less anchored in tradition and more freely focused on areas of living in a discipling community and engaging social outreach. This is not to say that Central Wesleyan was not concerned about these issues. As a growing church on Michigan’s west coast, CWC is a traditional Wesleyan church which has a great reputation and impact in the community. Those involved in Engedi simply wanted to shift their focus, not start a new denomination.

In our interview, Pastor Brian Aulick said he never planned on a church plant. Engedi started as a small group within CWC. After 5 years, the senior pastor suggested that Brian plant the unique congregation in order to expand their outreach and impact. Brian and Engedi members are more highly connected to living out their faith every day of the week. The group wanted to be more intentional in helping people serve in the community during the week.

Engedi was named after the small oasis which hid David from King Saul during the years he evaded Saul in wilderness. Engedi is a small valley, just off the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. In a parched region void of vegetation, a small stream breaks across the rocks, and falls down in the Engedi Valley, creating a cool lush retreat of green plants and animal life. The Engedi oasis was often a place where weary travelers stopped for refreshment and refueling. In this image Pastor Brian fashions this growing congregation.

Those who make Engedi their church home are called partners, not members. Each partner is called to, and willingly agrees to pursue a more deliberate, intentional Christian life. This paradigm is also promoted by Dr. Randy Carlson, speaker, writer and radio host with Family Life Communications. (www.theintentionallife.com) Partners commit to core practices, each of which linked to core values. The practical emphasis placed on these 5 core values make Engedi unique, and transformational for both partners and the community around them.

CABLE – A Means to Tie It All Together. Built on the acronym CABLE, the Engedi partners agree to practice the following.

C: To Care for others needs. The first core value is not restricted to those who come to church with you, or those you know. Each CABLE group is asked to have a community outreach project, such as collecting food for the local food bank, or mentoring local students.
A: To Acknowledge the journey with others regularly. Living your faith isn’t just a Sunday thing, and partners of Engedi intentionally seek out time to fellowship with others, and as Paul wrote: “Build up each other in the faith”
B: To Bless others weekly. “If the gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing” Engedi partners seek to communicate, bless and give to others in some way that reflects the way Jesus would.
L: To Learn God’s word and to Listen to God’s voice. Being led by God’s spirit is, or should be an every day thing. By purposefully practicing God’s presence, Engedi partners seek to be an active partner with God’s work in everyday life.
E: To Eat with others. Jesus practiced what may sound simple – He slowed down to eat with those who knew him, and those who didn’t. Fellowship that happens over a meal can open doors to share more than just food. Relationships are built, and partners use relational evangelism to draw those who don’t know Christ a step or two nearer.