Posted by: smstrouse | February 2, 2013

The Church As Front Porch

Interesting article on patheos.com about the church as front porch.  Author Anthony Robinson calls the metaphor of the front  porch “an intermediate space between street and interior, a place for casual interaction that might grow.”

He starts off with the usual churchy whine about the consumer mentality of people looking for entertainment in church, for a place for their own needs to be met. I’m glad I didn’t stop there, even though I get tired of the hand wringing about the church’s captivity to consumer culture. Finally he got to the point: that “in a society that has a growing number of un- and de-churched people, we need to meet people where they are.”  To me that means we get outside of the church building and go where people are. We listen to the un-churched and de-churched and not get defensive when we hear their stories (which can range all the way from abuse to simple boredom). Nothing new there.

But then he continues: “But meeting them there doesn’t mean leaving them there.” Now he had my attention. This is the big question that I find myself wrestling with. My own observation is that we have a core congregation of ‘members,’ but we also have a larger group of affiliates, contacts, seekers, blog readers, web site visitors, etc. who may or may not ever attend  a Sunday service.  This larger group isn’t looking for entertainment; I find that most are searching for a place (actual or virtual) where it’s OK to have doubts, ask questions, find a connection with the Sacred, and not be required to make a big commitment of attendance, committee work, or denominational loyalty.  I guess we could call them our ‘front porch’ friends.

Now what does this mean for how we see ourselves as the church? How do we create a place that includes a front porch, where people can be part of a community, maybe without ever becoming ‘members?’  Robinson gives examples of ways that some churches are doing it: seeker services, coffee shop ministries, community projects and activities. I realize that St. Cyprian’s, the church where we meet, has a front porch in its community center and outreach into the surrounding neighborhood. I’m also aware of the tension between balancing the needs of the center and those of the congregation. Still, it’s the right concept.

So what do you think about this ‘front porch’ metaphor?  What are your ideas for welcoming people onto the porch? I’d really like to know.

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Responses

  1. …all I can reflect upon is “What Would Jesus Do?”

    Like

  2. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

    Like


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