Rodeo Week-Sunday

It seems every church planter has the same experience, to one extent or the other, Sunday morning set up. Being away from North Star I was looking forward to a Sunday without “set up”. But, alas, Cornerstone has “set up.” The service started at 9:00 a.m. at one of the local hotels. Cody preached from Mark 11. Paul led the singing and handled the announcements.

After the service Cody, Paul, Keith, and Aaron went over the the new building to talk about needed renovations. Keith and Aaron are the other half of the four man pig wrestling team. Aaron is 39 and never married. He is a contractor and works from the end of elk season until the beginning of elk season. During the season he hunts almost everyday walking back six or seven miles into the mountains looking for trophy elk. You could say he is married to hunting. Aaron was also the first person baptized by Cornerstone.

The new location is in the business area of town. It was a doctor’s office with 2500 square feet. The bank parking lot is across the street and provides free parking on Sundays. As we stood around looking at the drop ceiling and interior walls Aaron and Keith were upbeat and involved. However, things changed when we went downstairs into the basement. It runs the length of the building and has a 7 1/2 foot ceiling. It would take a fair amount of work and money to use it for “church” space. But, a comment was made about the area being a great spot for an indoor archery range. The closest one is in Bozeman and charges $30 an hour. Aaron got excited. By the end of our time downstairs he had figured out that he could make a forty yard lane and several twenty yard lanes with an afternoon of work and no construction costs.The back alley would also be a suitable place for a grill providing the means of having gatherings.

This fall expect Cornerstone to be the location of a community archery league. (I can discuss renovations and tearing out walls, my specialty, but this is where I actually made a contribution.) The advantage of a league format is that it forces guys to spend more time at the range. Instead of coming in and shooting several rounds of arrows and then leaving a team has to rotate through. While several guys are shooting the others have to wait. Like a bowling league the social aspects become a large part of the evening. Since archery shooting outside is not practical during the winter a league night would be one of the few activities available in Livingston.If you make a league rule that your members have to find nonchurch members to fill out their team roster you have a great outreach tool. (Never sign up for a church softball league. Play with the lost guys. Besides, there will probably be less arguing that the church league.)

Aaron was pumped, as was Paul and Cody. Aaron got excited because he knows how many men who would never step into a church building would come to shoot. Paul and Cody got excited because they saw one of their men develop a vision of ministry that fits him like a glove.

There is a principle in all of this: The freedom to minister “outside the box” is in geometric proportions to the number and influence of core group people who come from a church background. Even  if they want to try new ministries their nature is to resist. After Aaron and Keith left, Paul and Cody immediately commented that one family would be upset that archery would take place in “the church.” This family’s standard is “doing like back home.” I use to encounter people in Alaska who would visit church and then tell me that they could not find a church like “back home.” My response was, “Then go back home. We are a church that is trying to reach Alaskans, not transplanted Southerners.” Throughout the West, Northwest, Alaska, and north of the Mason-Dixon line you will find aging Southern Baptist Churches that were founded after WWII by transplanted Southerners. These churches grew by attracting transplants and did church like back home. They were cultural enclaves. Sadly they never became indigenous and now do not reach their own children and grandchildren who are not Southerners.

The rest of the day was filled with erecting the hospitality tent and going over to Bozeman. I dropped Cody off for his EMT class ( fireman  training) and then visited William and Teresa Johnson in Manhattan. William has done a great job reaching his community through outdoor ministries. He will cover all of that in his contribution to the coming book on church planting.

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One Response

  1. Hi Dr. Brown,
    Thanks for being such an encouragement to our family in Livingston! Just talked to Tiffany and Ella and Tiff told us how great you have been in encouraging Cody and Paul. She said you have given them some great ideas especially in the use and rennovation of their new building. Was talking to her when I found your blog and knew I had to stop and tell you how much your are appreciated. God is so good!
    Thanks again,
    Deborah Wood

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