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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One Response

  1. Tim, interesting article. I think it reflects where a number of healthy churches are going. Low expectations lead to low commitment. Pastor Brian sounds like an interesting person to meet.

    I would note that for much of the midwest, his church would not be considered small. I would guess that an average church attendance in the midwest would be under 100. They are good example of a church with a big heart and a big vision. That’s why they are growing!

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