Falling for God

August 27, 2008 by

All right, all right. I’m sorry for the lame title pun. Westchester Church decided to do something crazy–go skydiving. This church had a message to communicate: We are not boring; we are not safe; we chase lions.

What better way to communicate who you are than to jump out of a plane from thousands of feet in the air?

And in a church with a weekly attendance of 150, forty people signed up. And they saw God do incredible things that day. Here’s a little bit from their pastor about one person who was particularly impacted:

He’s not a Christian and admits he is not a very religious man but he wanted to tag along with a bunch of crazy Christ followers to risk his life to skydive. To me that is amazing in itself. I think he was more nervous hangin’ out with us than jumping. Not sure about that but he looked a little nervous when he met us in the parking lot for prayer prior to leaving.

And Stephen from Westchester Church had this to say:

We answered spiritual and crazy questions all day while at the jump site. Our instructors, the filmers, the other jumpers, pilots, everyone–were all intrigued at a church sponsoring a jump. And on top of that they were thrilled and a little freaked that we didn’t pray before and after every jump, we didn’t try to convert them on the spot, we just had fun and built connections with them. Not to mention they were thrilled with the $4,000 in business we brought them in a single day.

This is a great example of what happens when you understand who your church is and do whatever it takes to market that personality. Even if it means jumping from a plane.

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Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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10 Responses to “Falling for God”

  • Doug
    August 27, 2008

    I’m not trying to be a hater or anything, but don’t things like this seem terribly gimmicky? I’ve been reading CMS for 3 years and the more I read, the more it seems like the churches answer to commmunication and marketing is just to do something crazy or over-the-top. How many provacative billboards, Sex-challenges and skydiving exhibitions are we going to read about? I want to hear about a church that is teaching their PEOPLE how to effectively explore their relational networks rather than the “corporate” church throwing out the net. If 85% of people attending church are there b/c of someone they KNOW who attends…shouldn’t that be the type of organic marketing we are discussing? It’s not sexy, it’s not terribly exciting to blog about, but it’s the most effective thing. Can we do a series on that?

  • Pete McM
    August 27, 2008

    “We are not boring”. That is sadly a message the church has not been giving out to people in this generation, in fact, at many stages it has been the complete opposite message given off, “We are boring”. Christianity shouldn’t be like that! We are called to a radical life of love and action, not sitting in a pew singing old songs, reading old liturgies for the sake of tradition. It is time more churches realized that and started living All4God instead of for tradition.

  • Archie Mck
    August 27, 2008

    I’d lean more towards agreeing with Doug on this one. I feel like I run into more churches pushing something edgy for “edginess” sake than anything else. Be it a Harley trip or a jaunt to see a “controversial” film, why can’t a church just be a church? Sure, it’s nice to find Christians sharing common interests and group events are fun but it all seems so strategic rather than organic. If the church empowers it’s members to reach out would they need it to babysit their events? I think we need to stop worrying about being boring and look more into integrating our faith into our daily lives and conversations.

  • Heath
    August 27, 2008

    Here’s where I disagree with Doug and Archie Mck…church is boring. What, really, does it have in common with scripture? What if we stop molding our lives around church – the dogma, the rites and creeds, the weird little peccadilloes of the American church? What if we mold our “church” around our relationships? Isn’t that koinonia? Here’s what I mean: people sky dive – so why can’t we just go sky diving as a group of believers. That is not a gimmick – that is just life – and if some non-believers come to understand our church is about experiencing God and not controlling Him, then maybe they will come to trust our relationship with God, and want to engage in one as well!
    Just a thought – I’m not hatin’ on Doug or Archie Mck – just sayin’…
    “Haters want to hate….lovers wanna love” – Dave Chappelle satirizing R Kelly.

  • john keese
    August 27, 2008

    personally, i struggle with things like this because of how much money was put towards it. don’t let me put off the impression that i am on my high-horse — i spent quite a big chunk of change on my computer & adobe suite. just something i think about.
    but if one soul is saved to the tune of $4K, that is money well spent.

  • Archie Mck
    August 27, 2008

    Yes, perhaps I should clarify a bit. I agree (and I think Doug does as well) with almost everything Heath said, Churches should be relationally based, first with God then with others (both Christian and not). As believers we should value community with others and community with fellow believers, we’re called to do so. I also think there’s nothing wrong with what WC did, in fact more power to them for letting the church exist outside the building. My only point was that the direction of their ministry should not be based on gimmicks. I simply feel there are less cliche (and cost effective, just saying) ways of being “crazy” Christians. Why not love people unconditionally and take risks reaching out to people? Rather than surrounding ourselves with whats comfortable why don’t we strive to make those without more comfortable. What if members could share stories of God working through terrible situations, through addictions, through infidelity, through forgiveness? Not a hater, just questioning things that maybe belie a bigger concept…

  • Stephen
    August 27, 2008

    Good dialogue. One major issue to mention though – we did NOT do this as a marketing stunt. I preached a Chase The Lion series that covered fears, uncertainty, and risk. Read Batterson’s book for more details. Peter walked on water so I challenged us to do the same – just with skydiving. The church-marketing aspect came as a result of us getting dangerous and out of comfort zone. I completely agree that had we done this as a marketing stunt then we would have totally missed it. Just to be clear, this was no stunt. It was a practical and HUGE way for so many boring, stagnant, and all-talk Christians to truly STRETCH their faith and understanding of just how BIG our God really is. Feel free to ask me questions personally. You see my blog listed here. Thanks everyone!

  • Stephen
    August 27, 2008

    My bad, should have read Heath’s comment fully. Good stuff. So yes, just to clarify, THAT is what we did. This was no gimmick or stunt. I think the fact that it’s mentioned on a “marketing” site gives it that flair. All VERY good thoughts.
    SO, who’s up for a jump next week?

  • Pat
    August 27, 2008

    I for one was one who questioned the money aspect but when I realized this was not for marketing but for personal growth, I jumped at the chance to face even my fears-I encouraged all of our people to do the same. It may not be to jump from a plane but maybe jump at the chance to share Christ with someone. Or teach kids or students. We all have fears, the point is when will you face them and start living the abundant life Jesus promised-my 2 cents

  • George R. Eddy
    August 27, 2008

    Where can I find some of this Chase the Lion material that you preach?

    I like to think that I do something for the Lord that I find pretty gutzy. I dress up as an angel bear and do some mascotting at an annual church festival. In a neighborhood where the kids are not very tolerant of weaklings.

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