After reading about Unplugged, a friend commented, “It sounds like another church service,” and then asked “why would I want to go to church again in a week?” Psh. Whatever. It’s not another church service.
Here’s what prompted her question: "On the first Wednesday of the month, we come together for Unplugged. We’ll spend time in prayer, praise, and the Word as a speaker brings it to us." This comes from a previous blog post. There’s language on the ave.’s website that’s pretty similar.
I’ve read that sentence near a hundred times. But when I reread that paragraph after her question, it was like I was reading it for the first time. This time, without the pastor specs.
Prayer, praise, and a speaker giving a message from the Bible. Yup. Sounds like church.
And honestly, if Unplugged is just a repeat of church, I’d be asking that question right with her: “Why would I want to go to church again?” Or if you normally don’t go to church, “why would I want to go to church at all?”
I’ll even go a step further. If Unplugged is a repeat of your Sunday morning (or other set aside church time), and I arbitrarily decide you should come to it, I’d be guilty of the most selfish and intrusive sin: redundancy. There are few things I tolerate less than giving time to something I’ve done/heard/endured already. If Unplugged is just a repeat of church, you shouldn’t come.
IF that’s the case. Which it isn’t.
Unplugged is a community/event/gathering unique from the normal church experience. It’s defining characteristic is: real. This isn’t to say that the church you might attend isn’t real, but Unplugged is different in that it’s for no one but you. We are incredibly specific in our target audience: 9-12 grade students in the Fox Valley. At the same time, our target audience is absolutely open.
Because at Unplugged, the staff, speaker, and leaders have no preconceptions about who you are. We can’t fine tune Unplugged until we know you. We want to be a ministry real for you, so we want to meet you. And the you we want to meet is you--not the person you think we want to meet.
We place a priority on being real with each other, because this authenticity is a catalyst for change. When there are no norms and expectations, there is no status quo. When we remove the status quo, what remains is a canvass for growth. So when you come to Unplugged, you’ll hear speakers who intentionally reach you at your heart. We want to speak to real issues and questions that you have in a way that is transparent and real.
And the cool thing is, we don’t have to be afraid of this transparency. Because it’s God’s Word that’s behind us. The more we see through each other, the more its God Word that we see. So we end up with this unique confidence that no matter where God’s Word takes us and no matter how vulnerable and broken we find ourselves, the movement is always forward. The movement is always upward.
Really, Unplugged is pretty simple then. It’s us being real with God’s Word and real with you. When you bring an honest heart to this equation, this is a powerful reaction.
The praise we sing at Unplugged comes from the real change that God’s Word works on our hearts. It’s honest, raw, and unadorned, whether we’ve got one guy, a guitar, and his voice leading us or a full band. Our praise is the product of God’s Spirit working on our hearts in his Word.
So the big question: why should you come? I’m not going to tell you to. I only want to see you at Unplugged if you want to be at Unplugged. But here’s the deal: if you see your life as something that can have a purpose more than just maintaining status quo, I think you’re going to get a lot out of Unplugged, and I think you’ll be able to give a lot to the other students at Unplugged. We’re starting September 3rd, and we’d love to have you join us.