When a church like ours starts, it has to be focused. It has such limited resources of people and money that the church can usually only do one thing. For PCC...our early obsession was with reaching people who didn’t go to church, but who were interested in spiritual questions.
I used to be one of these people. I didn't grow up going to church, and my venture into church as an adult was uncomfortable, because I didn't understand what to do or know the language or the culture. I was clearly and outsider. The truth is that most churches are created for church people. Most churches are oblivious to the fact that a majority of the people around them are highly spiritual, but think the church is irrelevant! So, they really are asking spiritual questions and most are interested in God, but they aren't asking the church for help.
An environment evolves where church insiders remain insiders and outsiders stay...out. When an outsider does occasionally come, it's very obvious who they are - they don't dress right, they don't know the songs, they don't know the language, they don't have a Bible, they don't have the right posture, etc. IF they come, it's a one-visit proposition. They feel singled out. It's a threatening environment. They don't return.
The church never intended to do this, but it happens all the time anyway. And it proves a critical point:
If you're not intentional about being a church for unchurched people, you will naturally become a church for churched ones.
I was determined that would never happen at PCC. So, I am constantly talking to people about their experience at our church, especially people who weren't previously going to church. Is the music relevant? The message? The technology? Is it comfortable? Do they feel welcome? Are we giving them anonymity? (which is important to most people who are checking out the church). Was the experience for their children positive?
These and other questions help us make ongoing adjustments in what we do. There are a lot of questions - everything matters. We're fanatics. We're obsessed. But it's hard to argue with the end result when you get to talk to the people who's lives have been changed.
In addition to asking questions, I read every book I can get my hands on about our target audience. Seriously, do you have any idea how many books are written about all of us who weren’t previously going to church? We are celebrities! There are literary Paparazzi camped outside of our windows somewhere, gathering information about us. No kidding! Now, if you aren’t interested in spiritual matters, I’m not trying to force anything on you. But for those who are, I’m reading everything I can to figure out how we can be a part of the conversation. Books like Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary; The Unchurched Next Door; You Lost Me; The Post Church Christian; Pop Goes the Church; Unlearning Church; Finding Church; Rethinking Church; Simple Church; Grow your Church from the Outside...just to name a few.
So what happens after a church like ours gets older and bigger is that it tends to relax, expand its focus, dabble in more and more things, and diversify. Then it gets confused, forgets why it exists and loses the plot. Then they start fighting, decline, and leave a legacy of empty buildings and old oil paintings hanging on the walls of people no one remembers.
But we’re doing just the opposite. Instead of spreading out and doing more things, we’re looking for ways that we can do the one things we do best in a refined, more focused way. We’re seeking out new ways to do the thing we’ve learned how to do well, but do it even better.
We're PCC, and our mission is to reach those who have been untouched or unaffected by traditional churches and guide them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
This is what we do.