Posted by: Justin Wallace | December 30, 2010

A new policy means a new era.

The reservations office at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte informed us the week of finals that they would be implementing a new policy starting January 2011. The new policy is simple: NO AMPLIFIED SOUND DURING WEEKLY MEETINGS. No extra speakers. No guitar amps. No drum kits.

Everyone Sunday night we have what we call The Gathering, our weekly worship service. We have a full band. This is a huge part of what we do but it’s not everything we do. It’s really not even the focal point of what we do. But…it’s still a gathering point each week for our community.

I have two questions that I really need you to weigh in on.

1. The reservations office told us that this was a long time coming because most universities are going in this direction. Does your university permit the use of sound systems and amplified sound for weekly religious meetings?

2. I really don’t see the policy changing. They have dug their heels in and taken a stance…most likely they will not be back tracking. Therefore…we need to figure out what to do on Sunday nights. We believe this is an amazing opportunity…what opportunity we’re not sure…but an opportunity for sure. We also believe this means a new era of campus ministry. A campus ministry that does not rely on a large worship gathering that has rocking music but a campus ministry that relies on something else. What do you think this new era looks like?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

I would love to use this forum as a place where we can brainstorm the new era  of campus ministry.

Share away.

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Responses

  1. This is a blessing to you friends. Relationships and conversations don’t need amps and speakers. Exciting!

  2. I am unsure of other campuses implementing this policy, however, I think this presents an interesting challenge.
    Have we, as the church, catered to the wrong audience? I LOVE awesome, loud, powerful worship music as much as the next person. However, I wonder, with out this will they still come? If they don’t come because the music is different, were they there for the right reason anyway? Who are our churches built for? Why can an underground church in Asia with no music have so many believers so on fire for God and yet our churches have all the bells and whistles and we live like zombies? These are all questions I have been struggling with. I am currently reading the book “Radical” and it has truly opened my eyes to how messed up the church has become. So, back to the question about how to change worship. I believe you could still meet in the same place, with out the rockin’ worship music and those that want to grow and learn will come. God will still be in that place and He will speak. Perhaps it will even be easier to hear?

  3. Justin,

    Yo Justin, Basically this is what my whole book about—there is a very real way for people to follow Jesus without all this stuff. I would encourage you to consider some of the stuff in the book—or drop me a line—and we can talk about some of the ideas that I have worked on to grow community without the service being the focus.

    The real question is this—if people to consuming a service…what will you ASK them to do. The good news is…they’ll have more time t o do those things 🙂

    Lauren is asking good questions. The kind of questions that will need to be asked in the next 10 years for the communities of believers to remain relevant

    Walked down this road.
    May be good to chat at some point.

    Much Love—excited for you all!!!!

  4. Our university has not implemented any such policy, though space issues seem to be ongoing….we’ve been moved around from room to room, place to place, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for our students to follow in order to find us.

    We are very aware of the fact that we are “guests” of the university, and try to keep a flexible disposition when approaching logistical issues. It think it forces us to think more creatively and not get too comfortable, and this is a good thing!

  5. Lauren :: Loved “Radical”! Such a great read. It pierced my heart at times and let me know I’m not crazy at others. The first thing we talked about when this new policy was implemented was the underground churches in Asia. We don’t believe this move is an oppression on our faith…it’s just a circumstance we find ourselves in. But…there’s something about the underground church that blows my mind. The passion that those people live with is the type of passion I want our students to live with.

    Jimmy :: I would love to talk to you more about this…even if its on here. I need someone to always ask me hard questions and push me in the future because if I’m honest…I’m very afraid. Along with everyone else I have been conditioned to believe that worship must include a sound system…that people won’t come unless you have a top notch, quality worship service. So, I’m afraid that we won’t be able to “compete with the world around us”.

    I’m excited though…I’m excited because I don’t think the current system is working. Not just in campus ministry but in our churches. I think we’re creating consumers…our church growth is mostly transfers…going from one worship service to the next worship service. I think campus ministry is on to something…true growth (the growth Jesus speaks of in John 15…fruit that will last) comes from discipleship. A worship service is only an overflow of those relationships.

    I’m beginning to see that with this new generation of students that grew up in church but know nothing about Jesus or the Word…they don’t get the worship service like we have the past 20 years. 5 years ago we couldn’t do enough worship. We could do songs for 45 minutes and people wanted more. Now…if we do 3 songs people start to get antsy.

    So, I’m excited because I think this move needed to happen but I was too scared to pull the trigger…now we have no other choice but to pull the trigger.

    With that said…I think the Gathering of Christian once a week to worship and hear the word is powerful and good. So…what does it look like now? How can we be creative to create a connecting environment? If we had 30 people it would be easy to bring everyone in a living room. But with 100+ students it becomes tough. The room we’re in is so large that the sound of an acoustic guitar will be swallowed up. These are the issues we’re facing. We have 1 week to figure it out.

  6. Justin:

    the way the policy seems written above – I’m sure it is different. It seems to imply just during when Finals are going on …. Have they quantified what is a weekly meeting – is it when school is in session? If so, when the Gathering is going on … you would be exempt because it isn’t when “classes” are in session during the Week or a “Weekly” meeting per say. So many other questions … what do they do about Performances in the Music department etc. Though provides more opportunity to minister and get to know the leadership of the campus.

  7. Gman :: The policy was released during finals but it will be implemented any time during the semester. Also…weekly meeting means anything that happens on a weekly basis…whether it’s on Monday or Sunday. The music department has their own building where they have their performances.

    Needless to say there’s not a loop hole. And i agree it’s a great opportunity to minister/communicate with the admin of the university. As of right now there’s not a lot of conversation to be had. The policy is what it is.

  8. A policy similar to this exists at NCSU and has for some time. However, it is not strictly enforced. The school allows all kinds of music clubs, movies, bands, etc to have amplified music in the classroom buildings – so the campus ministries amplify their sound too.

    Can you amplify music outdoors? Crusade here at NCSU meets on the track field each week (weather permitting) and you can hear the students singing praise songs all over campus. It’s pretty cool.

    I’m excited to see where this leads the Impact Community. You guys are brilliant and I’m betting that the Kingdom benefits from what you discover in the coming months.

  9. Justin,

    We have held our worship services at a location across the street from campus for several years, but as far as I know, our university doesn’t have such a policy. However, I can definitely see it as a possibility from our past experiences in dealing with the administration and other groups meeting in the same general area.

    However, as many are saying, this could be a great opportunity to give a renewed focus to what you are doing. Those of us in leadership at our ministry don’t necessarily consider our weekly worship gathering as the most important or most effective part of our ministry. However, because it is the largest meeting of the week, many of our students view it as the focus of our ministry (and of their spiritual lives). This opportunity to de-emphasize an “event” may allow you to place a greater emphasis on the other, more life-changing aspects of your ministry.

    One thing we have tossed about, but have yet to commit to, is a multi-site campus ministry approach. Rather than a larger weekly worship gathering with a full band, amps, etc., we would have smaller, more interactive, worship gatherings (probably acoustic with maybe just a couple of guitars, hand drums, etc.) on different nights in various key locations on campus.

    The possibilities are endless. The important this is to let your mission and your local realities drive your structure and strategy and not feel bound by the way we have always done things. The old way may have produced results, but new ways may be even more effective for our ultimate purpose.

  10. I have not foreseen any similar policy at Sac State, but that is not to say that its not on the horizon. CSUS has a habit of springing things on its students and organizations.

    GREAT POST my friend…it has sparked a conversation I am very glad to have got in on. I LOVE the desire to think of how to do ministry in the system provided for you instead of being those Christians who fight the system they’re called to reach out to.

    I also love the sense that this is all a good thing challenging the way you do ministry. I love those sorts of things.

  11. Appreciate the good work you are doing there Justin. My former students of my youth group appreciate it. Thanks.


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