The Denver Post did a recent profile of Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber who blogs as Sarcastic Lutheran. It was the typical Easter-interest story—oh my goodness, a Christian who doesn’t resemble Ned Flanders!—and be warned that Bolz-Weber is one of those emergent types (run for the hills!). But the tried and true story does have some nuggets of wisdom, including an awesome intro:
Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber is a dichotomy wrapped in a paradox covered in tattoos.
Creation, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost—practically the entire liturgical year—unfurl in technicolor ink from her shoulder to her wrist.
That’s just her left arm. Mary Magdalene and Lazarus rising from the dead are on the long right arm of this 6-foot-1 Christian billboard.
You gotta respect a well-written description of pastoral tattoo art (read more about those tatts).
But getting to the point, Bolz-Weber could care less about market research. She’s not exactly megachurch material:
” ‘Come and die to yourself’ will never sell,” she said. ” ‘Jesus wants you to be rich’ sells. But comfort is not a gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Bolz-Weber thinks authenticity is what matters, a theme we hear a lot of lately:
“I’ve never asked myself what do young adults want on church,” she said. “I’ve never tried to fill a market niche by producing a particular religious product.”
As much as we marketing types would like to formulate the perfect approach, sometimes it works better to just do it. Explore, experiment, try, fail, try again. You know: be authentic.
Authentic Beats Excellent
Bolz-Weber describes her 75-member congregation as “anti-excellence and pro-participation.” That’s a new direction—embracing what’s broken.
“We don’t do anything really well,” she said, “but we do it together.”
If you have to choose, community beats perfection.
- Learn more about how to welcome church visitors with this massive collection of resources and blog posts.
- Walking into a church for the first time can be scary. Check out Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors by Jonathan Malm for practical ideas and perspective on first-time guests.