E is for Experiential.
Can the church be experiential? How experiential should the church be? What kind of experience are people looking for at church? Do they want an experience? Is the church experiential now? All of these thoughts have been moving through my head after reading the chapters surrounding this topic.
In spite of being engineered to sell coffee, Starbucks does everything corporately possible not to create a preplanned compelling experience for the customer, but to help customers create experiences for themselves. Starbucks wants to help you experience from the heart something that you will enjoy and share with friends. And it works. (34)
People don’t want staged experiences; they hunger (and thirst) for the spontaneity of authentic experience in this time of transition. Mass-produced and prefabricated don’t cut it. We’re looking for authentic experiences of the moment. (37)
The product is no longer king, it’s the experience that surrounds the product that brings people in the door. (43)
Experience is more important now than it ever has been. If people connect with an authentic experience, they will continue to come back, if they don’t have an authentic experience, they will find the next thing to try. This is the world we live in, whether we like it or not.
At my congregation we are looking at offering a new worship with our target audience being young adults. With research upon research tell the church that we are losing this generation of Christians, authentic experience becomes even more important. As we start the process of looking at what a new worship offering will be like, this chapter speaks to the desire to have something which connects to each person as they walk through the doors of the church. Asking the question “What will this person experience as they come to worship?” is a driving factor for me in thinking in new ways about what worship is.
Authentic experiences. This is what connects people to Starbucks. This is what connects me to my seminary experience, to the Caribou Coffee I’m sitting in now, to the people in my congregation, at my tennis club, to my family and extended family, and to the staff I work most closely with. Experience is more important than I think I give it credit for when I plan things at church.
I’m excited to explore where this takes the new worship, but also where I can grow outside of my own comfort zone when it comes to crafting experiences for the youth and young adults I minister with.
Sweet includes some thought provoking questions within the chapters of his book entitled “Brewed for Thought”. I think they are good and if answered can provide some great ideas on the topics. So share your thoughts on the questions below, I’m interested in what you think about the E in EPIC, Experience.
Brewed for Thought- What factors made your most enjoyable experience of the week authentic? What kept it from seeming fabricated, forced, or synthetic? (37)