Tim Stevens, “Pop Goes the Church” (#Exponential 2010)

The second break-out that I went to was with Tim Stevens of Granger Community Church. I’m a big fan of Tim’s blog, Leading Smart, which is definitely worth a visit. Time was drawing on the material in his latest book, Pop Goes the Church, which is about the connections between popular culture and church ministry.

“People are most open to God when they go through times of crisis or transition” – Rick Warren

REALITY #1: in so many places, churches are not making an impact; in fact, oftentimes churches are actually the problem

Christians are: “hypocritical, too focused on getting converts, homophobic, sheltered, too political, and judgmental” from UnChristian by David Kinnamon

“People avoid church because they perceive church life as irrelevant; they have vivid memories of bad personal experiences with churches; they feel unwelcome at church…” – George Barna

Three buckets of people:

  • Churched –we’re doing great with these people, but not with the rest
  • Un-churched
  • De-churched

REALITY #2: Spiritual interest is growing in our culture.

Recent Lifeway Research study: 86% people believe they can have a good relationship with God without going to church

Why is this the case?

  • Churches are too busy answering questions that no one cares about
  • Churches don’t allow people to ask their toughest, pressing questions

“The church isn’t a place for questions, it’s a place for answers.”

“I believe that it’s possible for the church to enter the conversations that people are already having about life, truth, and eternity.”

John 1:14 (The Message): “Christ became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.”


  • Using secular music to raise issues that many people are dealing with
  • Leveraging the seeking in our culture, and celebrating our journey

Biblical rightness & wrongness of this??

  1. Paul mentions the idols in Athens – “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you” – Paul in Athens
  2. Paul mentions poetry/song from Epimenides and Cleanthes

Paul is taking a pop culture element and reinterpreting it or adding meaning to it. It is now a part of our Scripture.

Planning process:

  • 2-3 months/8-10 weeks in advance
  • Picked theme; know specific titles for each week; know big idea for each week
  • Senior team: 7 people together
  • then hand-off to creative team

What can a church of a couple hundred do to access that sort of thing?

  • Wingclips.com
  • Find people on your team, or in your church, who can help you think creatively
  • Watch other services online to get ideas for that
  • Wiredchurches.com

[This is part of a series of note-posts from the Exponential 2010 conference.]

3 thoughts on “Tim Stevens, “Pop Goes the Church” (#Exponential 2010)

  1. Regarding this post, and the post on Bezet’s talk, I think we’d do well to look for evangelism solutions outside of church programming.

    I believe that people need church to be discipled, but I don’t believe they need church to be evangelized. If there’s a natural aversion to church amongst the unchurched (which both these posts discuss), let’s reach people as individuals, and let the church part flow after.

    True “seekers” will end up giving the church a shot during their search. The rest, from my limited experience, seem to require several years of personal relationship before a turn is ventured.

    • Brian,

      I agree with you in principle but have seen how initial connection at church – whether in groups or services – can be an effective way for people to come to know Christ as well.

      One of the thing that Granger, where Tim Stevens is a pastor, is championing is “AND” thinking as opposed to either/or thinking. While we may not agree with their conclusions, I do believe that it is natural to blend incarnational/relational models of ministry with attractional models of ministry.

      Have you read Hugh Halter and Matt Smay’s book “AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church”: http://ht.ly/24blp?


  2. I’ve followed Hugh & Matt’s efforts pretty closely, but have not read their latest book yet.

    I think churches should make a good effort at being guest and seeker friendly. I’d just hate for a church to feel inadequete because they weren’t “relevant” enough to pull a large crowd of seekers. “Church” has a bit of a subculture aspect by nature, which creates its own set of obsticles.

    Regardless of where a church falls on the missional vs. actractional stuff, it’s easier (may better?) to win people to Jesus before the church. That concept should be freeing to many pastors concerned about the cool factor at their church.

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