slow page!] [Interview with Kirk DeWitt]
After the service was over I invited a group
of leaders and initiative-takers behind this service, took them to a quiet conference room
where I interviewed them about how they experienced this service. Here are some excerpts.
About the service
>>> Did you
enjoy tonight? What did you like?
Marc: I loved
it. This felt real. I loved the intimacy.
36. Professional Guitarist. Michael got saved at a Billy Graham crusade 15 years ago]
"I think that when people
walk into a church and it's just milk and cookies, it may not stick"
didn't feel like big church. Even though I am on staff here I don't go to big church
anymore. Big church is not as personal as this. I like the Biblical teaching. When I go to
church I want Biblical teaching.
Amy: The worship felt real. This is the the type of service I
can invite my friends to. It's really hard to ask my friends to get all dressed up and go
to a church they went to 20 years ago. This service is cool, and at the end of the day I
can just say to my friends 'come on, let's go."
How is this different from Big Church?
>>> One of
the things you talk about is 'Big Church'. By that you are referring to the four other
services which are held on Saturday and Sunday, and which are identical in content. How is
the Calvary PM different from Big Church?
is nothing wrong with big church. Big Church will continue to cater to a group of people,
especially in this area. But I need more of a message. I need a message that gives me the
answer to life, and I don't get that at big church.
and Mark, 36 and 37. Electrical Contractor, full-time mom, three kids. Maria also sings
Mark: I am excited at seeing no
printed stuff: no program, no outline. People are bringing their Bible, opening it up, and
Maria: I have
sung on the Sunday morning praise team for 7 or 8 years, and it is wonderful. But Sunday
morning worship is so different from the worship we have in these evening services. I see
more people worshiping here in our small group than I see in Big Church.
Michael: At Big Church we put strong emphasis on things like
color-coordination and the way everything looks. At the evening service you can wear what
you want - jeans and t-shirt or whatever. The presentation doesn't matter. At this service
we focus on what is internal, where a lot of mega churches focus on what is external.
speak of 'the fluff', as something you don't want in this service. What is that?
fluff is what gives you the warm fuzzies, but sometimes it doesn't give you much more.
24, single, Soccer coach and editor for Goal International]
looking for a place where I can invite my friends. I don't think many of them would find
Big Church very interesting."
Marc: It's The
'feel-good' love-your-neighbor. It's a certain amount of the truth, but it ignores the
part of it that is offensive. The fluff is the stuff that is not offensive. [At Calvary
PM] Kirk is talking about the whole thing; the truth including the offensive part. He
doesn't hold any punches back. What they do at Big Church is that they hold the punches
back, because they want everybody to come back next Sunday. When Kirk preaches he preaches
the whole message. if someone wants to walk away from that because he is offended, that is
OK. It's the Holy Spirit's job to convince, but Kirk's job to hold the message out.
Winston: It seems like this generation is ready for the whole
truth, and wants it more than the previous generation. It's like we're ready right off the
bat to hear it all. We think that a service like this can appeal both to a seeker and a
>>> You can
say that about no presentation, but I have never seen so many candles in my life. Explain
to me how that is 'no attention to presentation?
Michael: To me
candles symbolize intimacy.
generation listens to rock music all week long. It's really hard for us to go to church
and listen to piano - we just can't do it. We don't feel comfortable there.
and Todd, 31 and 31, married. Todd studies psychology, Joanna works at Calvary Community
Todd: "My hope is that the
3rd service will become a place where people can belong, much the same way some people
belong to a gang. I hope that it will become a place where people will experience the love
of God so powerfully they will go out and just not be able to keep themselves from sharing
his love with others."
Here we come in and we hear guitar, and it's
grooving to us. We feel more connected to that.
The dimmed lights and darker environment helps us feel more comfortable. It helps us feel
>>> Is it
then just a stylistic adaptation? Is it more?
feels less choreographed.
Kirk: Style is a big part of it, but it's more then that.
I would say that seeker-sensitive is changed. What is seeker-sensitive to someone who is
fifty is different than what is seeker-sensitive to someone who is 25. Seeing someone
really go off on singing the 'happy' song may be very seeker-sensitive to someone who is
25. Chances are they will say something like: "OK, I have no contact with God, and I
just saw something I have never seen before in my whole life, and I really liked it!"
>>> Are the
two groups of seekers and believers we distinguished in seeker-sensitive ministry during
the boomer-era then not as distinct in Generation X?
definitely not as distinct. There is a group of Christians now that calls themselves
seekers, and there are seekers who call themselves Christians. It's hard to distinguish
between the two. But our target in this service is definitely the unchurched person.
Married, 1 child. Winston works for GTE]
"I would like to
PM be a catalyst towards revival."
Mark: Let me put it differently. I cannot see an unchurched person sitting in
this service for months without being convicted. They may feel offended and leave, or they
may feel convicted and change, but I don't see how they are going to be able to sit in this
service and not be personally challenged to that point. But I can see that happen in Big
Church. I think a person can go there for 20 years and not be changed.
>>> It is
obvious that Calvary Community Church is a Mega Church. Easter-weekend brought some 9000
people to church. Does this image of a Mega Church drive young people away? Is it
beneficial for the 3rd service to be affiliated so strongly with a Mega Church?
think it actually works in our advantage. First, we're not a new church, but we have been
in existence for probably twenty years now. That works in our advantage. Secondly, there
is a larger structure here that supports the work of this ministry. There is a sense of
security that can be derived from that.
Michael: And that larger structure allows us to pursue our
own identity. You can meet other people here who are like you. Some time soon we will
start meeting in the new room, with the big stage, and the big screen; but we will still
be preaching the same message, and there will still be candles. The people and the
ministry will remain the same.
Joanna: The larger structure also gives us access to other
ministries. This church has ministries for just about anything. We have a place for
alcoholics, single parents, singles, divorce recovery. Us being part of the larger
structure gives us access to all those resources.
The Leadership team of Calvary PM is well on
their way to creating a place that will be a wonderful venue for young people to come
together and grow in their faith. The creation of the Calvary PM may just be the way
Calvary Community Church will be successful in remaining meaningful to its context. As
the original target group (boomers and builders) grows older, churches like Calvary will
need to work hard at focusing on younger generations, and Calvary is meeting the challenge
It also appears that Calvary PM is enjoying
all the benefits of being part of a larger whole. A large room to meet in, quality
leaders, an adequate budget, salaries, sound equipment, and more, are all things that the
typical church for younger people does not have regular access to.
Nevertheless, Calvary PM also faces its
challenges. In the answers I received in the interview I heard a certain amount of
confusion over who this service is for. It is obvious that some have outgrown the
spiritual diet that Calvary provides on Sunday morning, and are looking for Calvary PM to
fill their spiritual need to be 'fed.' That's great - except that that is not what Calvary
PM is about. While the service will continue to provide straight Biblical teaching, it
will not cease to be seeker-focused. It would seem that a further clarification of the
vision will become necessary with time. Kirk's comment: "since
this is the end of the core stage, many of those involved are churched people who prefer
the style and directness of teaching. Now that we have developed as a community it
is time to really hit the unchurched target, not just those who need "deeper"
[Photo report of
service] [Interview with Kirk De Witt]
Interview by Rogier Bos.
to respond to this poem.
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