There were a lot of great moments at A2. John Burke’s session was packed with them. John’s church, Gateway, in Austin, TX is quite a deal. Perfectly suits the culture there and is very effective. An essential ingredient in their strategy is the sense that they are primarily responsible for creating the culture. Their understanding is that God is responsible for the growth based on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. They’re trying to do three main things in creating the culture at Gateway:
- Create a culture of grace-giving acceptance. How do they do that? Teach people to accept and value people where they are first. Like if you found a Rembrandt that was covered by mud. How would you treat it? Do you see the mud or the masterpiece first?
- Create a culture of dialogue. Doubters are welcome. You let everyone know that from the beginning. You wrestle with people’s questions.
- Create a culture of authenticity. Reiterate again and again "Come as you are. No perfect people allowed." A key question is, "can people come to your church to get well? Or do they have to get well to come to your church?"
There was so much more going on, but that should give you a feel for John Burke’s session. Immediately following John’s talk there was a panel that included Erwin McManus of Mosaic here in SoCal. Commenting on what he had heard, Erwin remarked, "what you’re saying in as kind a way as you can is that if you don’t have a come as you are culture you’re really not a church." Thanks, Erwin, for saying what many of us have already embraced. Really a great moment.