Sunday, November 7, 2010

Xenon Fellowship: The Little Church That Could

This week, I decided to try my hand at some amateur journalism and determined to share the piece with you all that I've submitted to the Journal of Pseudo-Humorous, Satirical Journalism. In spite of the fact that JP-HSJ is not a real publication in any sense of the word, I hope you still enjoy the piece which I composed.

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Xenon Fellowship: The Little Church That Could
by Adam Parker

Each Sunday at Xenon Fellowship, the church gathers to do their thing. They have done so for only four weeks, but they are a church with huge aspirations. Regarding the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the church, Senior Pastor Steve Bryn says, "When we first started we were like, 'Church doesn't have to be cliched or stereotypical.' And so right off the bat we knew we had to look different from the other churches in town."

Founded in a moderately sized midwestern community, Xenon immediately established its presence with bombastic three-piece worship. Assistant Pastor Mike Knolls, who also plays bass guitar for the worship team, says that music is a really important part of what Xenon is trying to accomplish. "If you look at the really interesting churches, it's the ones with three piece bands that really hit the right stride. Bands like Hillsong United and the Polyphonic Spree just have way too much stuff happening on stage. When it comes right down to it, the less people on stage the better. People just want to be focused on three guys really getting down. And of course, worshipping God. I mean, sometimes when Steve and Dan and I are really shredding deep into the love of God, you can just feel the music overtake you, and you know that worship is happening."

When asked about the name of the church, Youth Pastor Dan Seville explains, "You see, Xenon is a pretty futuristic sounding chemical. And a lot of times it gets used in lights. So it's light to the world, AND it's futuristic. So... that's pretty much how awesome a concept Xenon Fellowship is."

The leaders of Xenon are aware, however, that they have some challenges ahead. Mike acknowledges that financial strain is one pressure: "Last Sunday's offering was pathetic. It's like, how can we get a sweet sound system and cool lighting if we can't even bring enough in through offering to pay for them?"

"I can't believe he said that. I put five dollars in the plate, I'll admit it," says pastor Steve. "But when the plate went around to Mike and Dan, they just both sort of looked around like they were surprised by the plate when it was going by."

Another problem which has plagued Xenon since its inception is its attendance. So far, there are only three members in the church: Senior Pastor Steve Bryn, Assistant Pastor Mike Knolls, and Youth Pastor Dan Seville. "We've tried all sorts of things: I've got kind of spiky hair, and I preached this week in a 'Nightmare Before Christmas' T-Shirt." Frustrated, he sighs, "What more can you do?"

The church also chose as its slogan a definitely un-prophetic phrase: "Xenon Fellowship: Where you can just blend in as part of the crowd." "Yeah, I know the slogan doesn't make sense yet," says Steve. "But a year from now, that's going to be fifty percent of our draw." According to the leaders of Xenon, nobody wants to be spotted in church, and the idea that you're coming as part of a crowd makes it easier to bring that dream to reality. "Who wants to be greeted?" asks Dan sarcastically. "Exactly," says Mike, "Why would you want to have conversations and stuff when you're just coming for music, snacks, and a good time?"

"One guy did come last week," says Dan. "But he was confused by the name and thought that we were a Lucy Lawless fan club. It was kind of cool though, because I guess he didn't even realize he was in a church service until Steve prayed at the end. So I guess we're doing some things right."

Mike has some ideas to improve the church but is reticent to share them with Steve. "For one thing," says Mike, "spiky hair isn't enough. It has to be a faux-hawk. For another thing, 'Nightmare Before Christmas' isn't cool anymore. What young person is going to want to come in here to join our hip young church if the Pastor is living in 1995? What's he going to wear next sunday, a 'Spin Doctors' T-Shirt with a pair of cowboy boots?"

Dan, who has yet to exercise his prowess as Youth Pastor, offers some perspective. "I see the seeds of a church split, as I see these two working through their differences. Last week, they both showed up wearing matching Star Wars T-Shirts. It was so awkward that Mike actually went to the bathroom and turned his inside out. Then he told the congregation it was because God wants to turn us inside out... whatever that's supposed to mean."

When asked by Bring the Books about preaching the Gospel, Steve doesn't miss a beat. "In this town, everybody already knows the Gospel. The thing that we need around here is a cool church. None of our churches around here are cool. Think about it. The Baptist church? Not cool. The Presbyterian church? Definitely not cool. A bunch of egghead know-it-alls. The Methodist Church? Maybe cool if you're three hundred years old and like walking at half a mile an hour."

But Xenon Fellowship, despite its challenges, continues to press on. They will not be deterred. "We're not about to let our size or our income bracket, or our lack of real talent, or our inactive youth program, or our non-existent sound system, or our high school educated pastor, or our incredible hair, or our awesome taste in T-Shirts stop us from doing what we know we need to do," says Mike. "I know that Xenon is going to shine more brightly than all the rest."

Shine on, Xenon Fellowship. Shine on.

2 comments:

  1. You should submit this to the actual onion-esque publication, Lark News.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I read Lark News, but it's been SO LONG since they've done anything new that I'm starting to wonder if they folded up shop.

    ReplyDelete

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