Welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad you’re tuning in because today we have Justin Dosch from Grace Community Church in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. Grace was built with the intention of looking like a community center that happened to have services on the weekend so that it would feel less like a church in order to bring in people who aren’t comfortable with the typical church atmosphere.
Justin is the family pastor at Grace and is here today to talk about how they are reaching unchurched people and how you can adapt their strategies in your own church.
- Care for people when they mess up. // When someone comes through their doors, whether for the first time or whether they’ve been coming for ten years, it’s very important to Grace Community Church to care physically, emotionally, and spiritually for them. At Grace they have a counselor and different levels of care via small groups or one-on-one care through volunteers. People who have gotten burned at churches may feel that it’s not really a safe place. If they mess up, we point fingers. While Justin explains we should all recognize our sin and grow from it, we also need care along our spiritual journey. Because Grace Community Church tries to care for people the way that Jesus cared for those around him, their culture is heavy on the side of grace without neglecting to share the truth of the gospel. As a result they’ve seen many lives changed as people feel safe to be works-in-progress on their spiritual journey.
- Hospital for the hurt. // It can seem to be a difficult thing to communicate care within a large church without overlooking people. At Grace they do this through consistency and clarity. They proclaim this value not only from the stage, telling the congregation, “Hey, this is a hospital for hurting people,” but also down through the staff. Grace works to make sure people know that no matter what they’re struggling with, it’s a safe place to come where they can find someone to help them work through things.
- Go back to the drawing board to do more. // Many churches do a Trunk-or-Treat type outreach for Halloween and while Grace Community had too, they felt that it had become stale and repetitive. So they went back to the drawing board and began to reimagine a fall outreach for the community. This led to the development of Fall Frenzy three years ago, which Justin describes as “basically a fall festival on steroids.” It is a free festival with food trucks, games, and inflatables, with the main attraction being theme rooms, for example Star Wars Jedi training, in the church. A lot of people comment that they can’t believe this is a church and many come back to services another day, with the Fall Frenzy outreach as their first interaction with the church.
- Encourage working within the church early. // At Grace Community, being a part of the church starts early. They have a youth program like other churches do, but they try to keep it simple to engage kids in what the gospel is about. Once a month they have a big youth night that’s fun and encourage students to invite their friends. On another night during the week, the youth group meets to talk about what the lesson was during the monthly youth event, and delves into scripture more deeply. The students are encouraged to get involved in the church and serve in a capacity such as an usher or working in the café, as the adults would.
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Ministries Following // Northpoint
Influential Book // Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff
Inspiring Leader // Andy Stanley or Craig Groeschel
What you do for fun // Play guitar, exercise, time with wife