I remember having two things on my mind as I walked into my gym (BONA fitness) that hot summer morning. 1) I was going to PR my deadlift, even if that meant I couldn’t walk for a few days after, and 2) I wanted to hear from my non-Christian friends why they had a hard time giving church a try. A couple hours later I left the gym without PR’ing my dead lift, but gaining a real understanding of why people in Katy had given up on the idea of church.
At first I heard the usual answers, “I’m busy on Sundays” or “I just don’t believe in that stuff.” Yet, the more questions I asked, the more people began to share the real issue. What I found is that a majority of people in Katy feel as if the church is inaccessible. Now we can argue all day long whether this is true or not, but the reality is there is a large percentage of people in Katy that perceive this to be true. And if perception is reality (as it often is) this is a problem, because if there is any institution that should be known for its accessibility it’s the church.
I remember driving home from the gym (lower back throbbing) thinking “I’ve got to show my unchurched friends their perception of the church is not entirely accurate.” But there was a problem, it’s one thing to have a conversation at a gym, and another to agree to go to the very place you feel most uncomfortable. In this case that place was a church. Then God gave me the craziest idea of my life, “What if instead of inviting them to a church, church was brought to them.” As I pulled into my driveway I saw my wife Alisa carrying our daughter Laine to get the mail. I hobbled out of the car, grabbed my gym bag, and with my mind racing I remember telling her, “I have an idea.”
Over the past 5 years I have discovered three concrete reasons for why new churches in Katy are needed:
1) There are not enough churches:
Statistically speaking there will never be enough churches in Katy to account for the massive amounts of growth we experience on a yearly basis. Part of the reason the Church in Katy struggles with being known as accessible is because there are not enough churches to correct this false narrative.
Katy is home to a ton of fantastic churches. Churches that are proclaiming the Gospel, and meeting the needs of many people in the city. This was very evident during the aftermath of Harvey. One could argue the Church collective in Katy is one of the primary reasons our city was put back together as quickly as it was, both physically and emotionally. It was truly amazing to see.
However the reality remains, as great as our churches are doing in Katy, there are still people to reach and needs to meet. Therefore we need more churches, and all kinds of churches, reaching all kinds of people.
2) Jesus is accessible:
I love talking with and hanging out with non-Christians. I really mean that. I love hearing their stories, and asking spiritual questions with their permission. I think the reason for this is because, for so much of my life I have felt to be a Christian is to, 1) have everything figured out, 2) and whatever doubts you may have, you stuff those away and take a giant leap of faith. But most of my unchurched friends do not have this paradigm. In their minds there is always room for doubt, there is always room for questions and by default there is always room for dialogue.
Some of the most enriching conversations I have had in the past 5 years have been with non-Christians. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian minister, I whole heartedly disagree with most of my non-Christian friend's conclusions and convictions, but I treasure our conversations, because I treasure them as fellow human beings made in the image of God.
What I am finding is that most people that reject Christianity, and the Church, do so based on an interpretation of, or experience in, Christianity that does not accurately reflect real, orthodox, historical Christianity. For many non Christians, the Church is about some power play to oppress others. But this just isn’t true.
The Church is built and stands on the teaching and model of Jesus. Jesus said loving God and loving our neighbors is the greatest commandment, the highest good. Jesus is the one who dies on behalf of his people for their crimes to grant them forgiveness for their sins. He dies for his enemies, praying for the forgiveness of the very ones who were killing him. The story of Christianity is this; God has come into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, to pay a debt we all owe, yet could never pay. It’s not a power play, it’s a play of sacrifice and love. Jesus never oppresses people, but rather allows himself to be opposed by others, that he might pay our debt and set us free to live a life free from the bondage of sin and death. God made himself accessible to his people in Jesus and the Church is the means God uses to ensure all people he is still accessible.
3) Churches enhance cities:
The message of the Church is not "Believe in Jesus when you die you will go to heaven." The message of the Church is "Believe in Jesus and join what he is doing in the world today." This is why he teaches his disciples to pray, “Our father who is in heaven, Holy be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” Wherever a church exists, that part of the city should be better for it, because the church is to reflect the Kingdom of Heaven.
Where the Church is present crime and divorce rates should be lower. Marriages, school districts, and community establishments should thrive. There ought to be a sense of loving neighbors and general concern for the wellbeing of others, even at the inconvenience of ourselves. Who doesn’t want to be a part of a city like that? Who doesn’t want to raise their families in a city like that? Therefore, we need more churches.
Since the New Testament, churches have been planting new churches. The reason is not because the new Church knows better than the existing one, but because God is making himself accessible to all types of people, which requires all types of Churches. I am proud to say I am a product of the excellent churches in Katy, Texas. The heart of this new church, Haven, is not to replace the need for those churches, but to join in the mission these churches are already on, to a particular people that God is calling us to serve.
I truly believe that people are looking to connect to Christ, one another, the city and the world. And while politics, philosophy, and social justice are all great things they alone can’t provide the transformation our hearts are looking for but if Jesus Christ is who he says he is, and if he accomplished what he said he did, then he can. The more churches we have, the more accessible he becomes for all people. In the end, the Gospel changes everything. But this is just one Pastor’s opinion.