We have people ask us, "So, where is your church building actually located?" I tell them we don't have a church building.
"So where do you worship every Sunday?" I tell them we don't worship every Sunday.
They ask, "How many people are in your choir?" I tell them we don't have a choir.
"Oh so it's a praise band?" No, it's my iPod.
Then they ask me if we have done any mission trips to Mexico or Honduras or some other third world country every summer. I tell them that we don't. Instead we feed the homeless seven days a week, every week.
"Oh, so it's not a church, it's a ministry. How's it going?"
I have spent a lot of time in traditional churches and truth be told, they work for a LOT of people. They work millions of people. We just know it ISN'T working for millions of others. We are just trying to offer something different. We consider AfterHours to be like a boutique hotel or a microbrew. It's not for everyone. We will never be the Hyatt or Budweiser. We don't want to be. We just know that over 75% of the country doesn't go to church on Sunday. We, as the church, have to start, if I may be so crass, capturing more market share. I think one of the ways we do that is to expand our delivery system.
AfterHours Denver meets in bars in downtown Denver. We meet on a night (Monday) when bar owners would love to have the business. We always pick places that have a full menu so people are free to drink or eat or drink & eat or not do either one. Because we bring in business on an off night, the space is free. The bar owners didn't suddenly find Jesus. They found a bunch of people on an off night. Since we began nearly a year ago, we have not paid a cent in rent. Rent money that we now use to market AfterHours and to feed hungry people. We think that's pretty cool.
We start every service by making lunches for the homeless. It is our call to worship. It is service within the service. Not everyone can go to Haiti, but everyone can make a sandwich. By making sandwiches they start understanding the connection between worship and serving the world. We think that's pretty cool too.
On the weeks we don't worship together, we partner with a small inner city church that lets us make the lunches right on the altar of their church. See for us, it's not the "old way" vs. the "new way". It's both/and. We partner with traditional churches. As a matter of fact, we have partnered with seven other churches (large, small, urban, and suburban) which have allowed us to now feed the homeless of Denver seven days a week. We offer food and water and socks and communion. We also are in partnership with two businesses and an apartment complex. We think that that is VERY cool.
After those off Mondays when we make lunches at that small inner city church, we head over to a local bar to eat, drink, and talk about God. We call it Theology Pub. Some people would call it eating and drinking and talking about God. That works too.
And that is pretty much all of AfterHours Denver. It is a model that works for us. We don't know how long it will work. That doesn't matter right now. We know we are feeding hungry people every day and loving them. Our giving is at 300%. We don't ever remember Jesus saying, "Sing and pray and tell me I'm great once a week." We also don't ever remember him saying, "If you need me, I'll be in the temple." We do remember him saying, "When I was hungry, you fed me." We also remember him saying, "Love one another as I have loved you."
And we think that is the coolest thing of all...
What are some of the ways your church “does it differently” to reach out to the community?