Tim was an outspoken atheist who vowed he would “never go into a church again.” But he became a regular participant at our live, local teen music spotlights in Mound during his last two years of high school. Many good conversations about faith and life grew out of our interactions at these music events.
Kim never found a traditional youth group where she fit in. Kim was an artistic type sporting tattoos and piercings and felt more at home on the fringe of the social landsape. But she was proud when her paintings were showcased at one of our monthly coffee house live music events in Mound.
“Hating the Love” and “Burn All Flags” were just two of the teen punk bands who we got to know during the high school Battle of the Bands events we organized in Mound. These self-proclaimed anarchists and anti-religionists found acceptance at our Revolution youth events.
On a Monday night Christians and atheists alike turned out for “Doubt Night” where we discussed the toughest objections to Christian faith. Everyone was allowed to share doubts and wrestle openly with questions other churches feared to bring up.
While teaching driver’s educaiton, a 16-year old artist and drummer confessed his frustration with institutional forms of church. “Do you know of any churches that simply focus on showing people how to follow the Way of Jesus?”
These are just a few of the stories from the Revolution youth movement I spearheaded in Mound in 2005-07. Young people are hungry for meaning and purpose, open to spiritual conversations, but largely disinterested in church-as-usual. My conviction in 2005 is still the same conviction guiding the vision of MainStreet Church in Mound: In a culture where many people will never come to church, the church must go to them.
How can we engage the growing unchurched and dechurched population? Where can we meet them? We discovered that a great place to start is at a casual cafe-lounge on a Friday night with live, local music in the background. Our monthly open mic nights and occasional Battle of the Bands events were a huge hit among local youth — many far from the church. We did our best to transform old church basements into attractive night club or coffeehouse atmospheres. We also held worship concerts in the high school auditorium that were attended by people of all ages.
I remember driving around Mound back in 2007 looking at vacant retail buildings and dreaming of someday opening our own community concert venue. If local teens were willing to gather by the hundreds in old church basements, imagine how many more would gather at a non-churchy storefront venue.
Years later we now stand on the threshold of actualizing this long time dream for Mound. MainStreet’s new Stonegate ministry center will provide an attractive, non-churchy cafe lounge and concert venue for both churchgoers and spiritual seekers. A storefront home will place MainStreet a bustling strip mall with clients going about their everyday business — dropping kids off at preschool, shopping for party supplies at A Dollar Store, or seeking assistance at the Western Communities Action Network (WeCAN).
Our new facility will provide a cafe lounge and concert venue to facilitate:
- Daily interaction with unchurched people
- After school youth options
- Community gatherings (book clubs, meetings)
- Live music events and youth outreach gatherings
- A 175-seat worship auditorium for Sundays
- Education classrooms for church and community classes
- Church office space
Now MainStreet will truly live into our vision of being a church “in the marketplace daily with all who happen to be there” (Acts 17:17).