Home > Church, Faith, God Project > Kensington Community Church (Or The NPR Pledge Drive)

Kensington Community Church (Or The NPR Pledge Drive)

Dear God,

What’s up?  You’re never on AIM anymore, we miss you lol!  I’m doing my Awesome God Project, and I need some help on how to write it.  It’s very tough figuring out how to approach it and write about my experience.  Like, what do I focus on?  The message?  The whole church?  The people?  How do I incorporate this into one coherent blog post (btw, UPDATE YOUR BLOG)?  Anyway, I’m gonna go try to write this—call me dude!


Drew (like you didn’t know haha)

Dear Drew,

Frak off, I’m watching The Plan.


I want to point out to people – nothing would make me happier if God actually spoke those words to me.  Or something BSG-related.  And on that note bear with me as I figure out how to write this.

Kensington is unlike the church services I’m used too—for some perspective, their 2 espresso machines cost more than Shepherd’s entire sound system.  Even at our height, when we had two services of roughly 200 people, we didn’t equal the production values at Kensington.  It sounds weird to refer to production values when talking about church.  But with Kensington, you have to, or you’re not talking about half the service.  The service is a well-run stage production.  From the video montages playing behind the band, to the video produced for the lyrics, the skit, and the entire direction of the 4-camera setup—the service is a show (and props to the production staff, it looked great). And the in the Christianity world, the debate on show or no show will continue (and I’ll address later) but you can’t deny that you’re entertained.  At the end though, I still felt like I was at an NPR pledge drive.  A fundraiser for Jesus.

The service ended with the lead pastor, Steve Andrews, making a pitch for people to leave religion and starting trusting Jesus.  Let me say, I love the sentiment here.  Pastor Andrews talked about how religion is a man-made concept to try and please God.  But we can’t please God, we can only try and let him pick up the slack.  The gist of the message: you can’t do it alone so stop trying.  Putting your trust in a man-made construct, and expecting a physical reward won’t happen; put your trust in Jesus, but remember your payoff won’t be a physical one.  I’m not a fan of fundamentalism and legalism.  So, I like that message to a degree.  But I also think it also focuses too much on me.  It makes Jesus about me, and not others.  It may seem like semantics, but Jesus is about us, not me.  Rejecting religion for Jesus is just a start, but the message still focused on how it will affect the singular person.  Making the Gospel and Jesus simply about me—and ignoring the influence on the community—seems selfish to me.

The skit makes it clear that Kensington doesn’t believe that once you become a Christian life doesn’t become easier, but the rest of the service still focused on what happens to me once I give up and trust Jesus.  And at this point, the sermon became an NPR pledge drive.  Pastor Andrews did a modified altar call at the end, anyone wanting to commit to giving up and trusting Jesus, meet in the chapel and we’ll have people ready to talk.  I don’t know where my bias against altar call stems from, but I hold onto it pretty tight.  Every time I hear one, I shift uncomfortably.  It turns every service into a sales pitch.  “Isn’t this programming great?  If you like what you hear today—and who doesn’t—give us a call to keep this on the air!”  The Gospel gives us the Great Commission, but services like this make it seem the primary purpose is the number.  The number of people who show up in the Chapel after.  The number the Church can get to commit.  Not the affect that the church can have the community, the neighbors right next door and down the street.  It’s odd, because Kensington has a lot of volunteer activities they coordinate in the community—not to benefit the church, but the people outside it—but none of this is the focus of the service.  It’s me.  How will Jesus affect me?  I hate selling my faith, convincing people why they should buy into it.  I rather just live it.  Make the soft-sell and affect people so they see what it means to be a follower of Christ in action, and that it’s not standing on the sidewalks condemning everyone walking by to hell, or that it’s multi-level marketing scheme we should all get involved in and reap the benefits.

I like Kensington—the sermon is so well put together it’s hard not too—and even the sermon was good.  Pastor Andrews is a talented public speaker.  The message isn’t bad (nowhere near Prosperity Gospel bad) but I think it is to focused on what Jesus will do for you, and doesn’t focus on what Jesus will do for the community.  I’m looking forward to going next week, and looking at the community more, and my views of the megachurch.

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