How many churches have you ever walked into and immediately felt accepted, felt an immediate connection to the whole? It’s an experience that I have rarely enjoyed. Yet this summer I had the privilege of attending VidCon 2012 sponsored by YouTube out in Anaheim, CA. I can only think of one word that explains this experience. Community.
Great communities form around a key element. That element must be basic enough to capture the imagination of a diverse group of people to ever have the hopes of being a community that is larger than any one demographic. YouTube has managed to achieve this and achieve it well. I’ve never been in a space of more diverse or more creative people. There are no strangers at VidCon because everyone is interested in what you do and are anxious to tell you their story. I’ve been to many Christian conferences that lack this diversity, openness and excitement.
I love the church. In fact, in one short year I’ll be pastoring my own church. But there are things the church can still learn from the secular world. Just as Paul wrote to numerous squabbling Christian communities, I’ve met only a handful of worshipping communities that do community well, embracing everyone with the same enthusiasm and openness to self expression I just experienced in California.
So what separates church communities from the YouTube community? There were two key elements that caught my attention. First, the behavioral expectations at VidCon were simple, “be awesome.” It was rather poetic. On the other hand, how many churches, small groups, youth groups, etc have codes of conduct and behavior? Not saying that having a community covenant or standards are wrong, but it raises the question whether we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work upon people at the Spirit’s pace rather than ours? One of the biggest reasons people tell me they don’t attend church anymore is based off of this idea of morality was the focus of their community rather than experiencing transformation with God.
My second observation was that all of the movers and shakers of the YouTube community are under the age of 30. That is the exact opposite of the majority of churches. Why? The reasons are many, but perhaps my first observation has something to do with that, along with the lack of freedom in many churches to create. YouTube is founded on the idea of creativity and ingenuity. Young people have plenty of both, but too few churches allow for the open expression of either. The churches that are tapping into their young people’s creativity are the churches who are growing… hmm…
YouTube isn’t perfect, and it is a community desperately needing Jesus. Yet the church can learn so much from this growing community, a community that is changing the culture at a mind blowing rate.
Isn’t that the role if the church?
Click here for my thoughts from VidCon last year.
Check out my creative attempt to tell my VidCon adventure…