Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Faith Works 7-19-08
Jeff Gill

Consider the Geeks, They Toil Not, Neither Do They Spin

A church along I-70 has a large banner up in black and burnt orange. Some of you don’t need me to explain much more about it, and not because you’ve driven through Columbus lately.

Bikers know the colors of Harley-Davidson even if they sit astride rice burners and Goldwings, and those colors stand out as ones VBS banners don’t usually select.

The church in question is having a “Biker Sunday,” part of a trend in congregational life to conduct outreach by targeting a group that isn’t known for church attendance, and approaching them on their home territory.

As I said to a fellow preacher last week, we’re all called to share the Gospel “to the ends of the earth,” which may just be nearby but out at the edge of our comfort zone. So a faith community is reaching out to the motorcycling community with a special emphasis Sunday, and the parking lot will doubtless be rumbling that day.

Other area congregations have tried this approach to reach out to men in general, who in general are less well represented in worship than women are. Sports themes have long been a favorite for men’s fellowship groups, especially if a winning coach or marquee player is available, regardless of their own religious literacy. (I’ve sat through too many who are trying to adapt their noon service club standard talk to a church event, and it can be painful to watch.)

More recently, churches have gotten a bit creative about this. They find a supplier of exotic entrees and put on a “Hunters Feast” event, where instead of a bean supper or baked ham loaf the invited males chow down on venison, alligator steaks, and a bit of kangaroo fricassee.

Rattlesnake hors d’ oeuvres go without saying, as does the occasional Rocky Mountain oyster.

And I know a church that has a plethora of carpenters in the pews, so they developed “Wood Samaritans.” Get it? Wood…good…

Not to mention many automotive ministries, “Hot Wheels” and “Gearheads for Jesus” and “Emmanuel Transmission” and so on.

What I’m wanting to ask, or just throw out there and see if anyone bites on the lure, is a particular ministry target group I’ve never heard aimed at.

“Geek Sunday.”

Seriously: many men are, in fact, geeks. We can spell dilithium, know what mineral form it takes (crystals), and some of us can tell you the names of star sytems where it can be found (sorry).

We have schematics for how to construct your own lightsaber, as every Jedi must do for themselves (mine would have a green crystal, natch); we know how many hit points a kobold has, and how to roll percentile for DI.

Plus anyone who made sense of the preceding paragraph can tell you there are some theological points of contact in those fictional ideas, and geeks do discuss them. Geekily.

Just as bikers have many and meaningful discussions about mortality, and destiny, and the destination of the soul after you lay down your ride on a curve that has no edge. I think an occasional Biker Sunday is good, solid, meaningful evangelistic outreach, and good for those that hold them; hunters and folks who fish hold life and death in their hands each time they pursue their craft, and a Wild Buffet can be a good place to draw those conversations into the church precincts.

What I hope doesn’t happen as these forms of outreach grow is that we pass over the less cool, less socially celebrated segments of our communities. “Geek Sunday” is near and dear to my heart, but what about “Runners Sunday,” or “Vegetarian Sunday”? You could have a “Welders’ Sabbath” or a “Geocaching Weekend.”

How’s the edge of your comfort zone holding up? Maybe your church could have a “Goth Sunday” or a “Celebration of Cashiers.”

Think about that – a cashier preaching to us about how the world looks from their side of the register? We might just realize how much we all need forgiveness…

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him about your church’s outreach idea at

No comments:

Post a Comment