Worshipping on the Free-Throw Line

A Church in a Gym

I don’t know if I’ve ever attended another church like it.  The echo of the drums off of the hardwood floor made the sound bounce in all directions.  You don’t get to just find your seat, you have to set up your seat, and then tear it down when the service is over, how’s that for “Welcome to Church!”  The only apparent emblem that there is a church somewhere is the flag stuck in the ground outside of the YMCA in which they meet.  And somebody has to take those down too. 
The Summit Church in Green, OH is not your traditional church.  They have an overwhelming passion for their city and a comprehensive involvement in the mission of their church.  Everybody is doing something.  No one is simply receiving and walking away happy that “it was a good sermon today…”.  Needless to say, their pastor preaches great sermons, and their worship team leads fabulous music.  Seriously, it’s fabulous!  But their Christian lives are not tied up in the Sunday event. And for them it is much more of an event than for most churches.
The Summit Church is a church that was started out of a vision to see the un-churched and the de-churched meet with a church.  They began meeting in a movie theatre, but eventually landed in the gymnasium of the YMCA.  Those of us influenced by church structures may have a hard time adjusting to singing our worship songs with the strands of the basketball net looming above us.  But this doesn’t even phase members of the Summit.  As a matter of fact, they love it! 
When they use the word “church”, they mean something quite different than most of us accustomed to buildings and programs mean.  Their “church” is quite literally them!  They spend time together, interact constantly, serve together, throw parties together, invite anyone and everyone.  They all have careers in all sorts of things…but they use their abilities honed by their careers to serve their church. 

My Time at the Summit            

This past weekend I had the chance to speak there.  My overwhelming sense was “my goodness the American church has some sacred cows to slaughter”.  Though this isn’t the first time I’ve concluded this, it returned with a renewed strength.

We are totally consumed by our buildings….How will we adjust them?  What will we add?  What new thing can we buy?  How can we make it better, more attractive, more compelling?

We are totally consumed by our programs…what new event or new ministries should we offer? Is it engaging enough? Will people come? Is the music loud enough, new enough, old enough? Do we have a graphic?…we have men’s, women’s, students, children, college, post-college, pre-college, post-highschool, post-college/premarried…I mean my goodness!  We have too often missed what it means to be the church…together. In an effort to offer the “best possible product” to “our consumers” we have cheapened the gathering of believers.
We have missed that church, the assembly, the gathering, is simply those who have been called by Christ, justified by Christ, and are being sanctified by Christ, gathering to worship Christ. 
And let me tell you…there are whole groups of people that are concerned with the numerical growth of churches, but the Summit is growing, and not with the usual ploys and gimmicks.  There is rawness, an authenticity and genuineness of faith that this generation loves and at Summit they find that.  They find real people, with real problems, not trying to use cosmetics on their buildings, programs or their lives rather passionately pursuing a Savior who rescues them. 
All this to say, I am grateful for my time at the Summit Church, and for the influence that Pastor Tom Hogsed and their leadership team have had.  They are building a church, not a church building, and that cheesy cliché may actually make all the difference.  

Check out the Summit Church here.

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