The Night I Broke Into Dan Kimball’s Church

Orginally published on Wednesday, December 27, 2006 at 1:00 PM
by Earl Creps

WellÖit wasnít exactly a burglary; more like an unguided tour that took place a couple months ago when I was visiting Santa Cruz. Several friends, one of whom works with the congregation offered to drive us to the building to take a look at their new facility.

We arrived at a brick structure that, too all appearances, was a standard-brand California Presbyterian church. But one of my friends explained that Vintage Faith has developed a relationship with their hosts in which they share the same building, and lots of other stuff, in a two-year experiment in church hybridity.

We just happened to visit Vintage Faith as a wedding rehearsal was underway, resulting in lots of open doors all over the facility. So we started walking through them, investigating the lovely, classic sanctuary, walking the corridors, standing in the gym, and checking out Danís new office (through the window).

So I guess in that sense it was sort of a break in. We were uninvited. I think the people at the wedding rehearsal may have assumed we were caterers or something. But lots of church site visits have taught me that the best discoveries often happen using the burglary model: just show up and see what happens.

What impressed me about Danís set-up was the hybrid model: two congregations, both contributing their gifts in an integrated way. The Presbyterians have a great tradition, location and facility, and Vintage Faith has vision, energy, and young people. Itís not exactly a merger, but itís not exactly a host-and-guest situation either.

Other sectors of our culture seem to sense the potential of hybrid models. Check out online slideshow on the future of hybrid vehicles, for example. Maybe church leaders need to think about how to combine the gifts of their organization with those of another organization. After all, thatís exactly what we ask individuals to do when we bring them together to form congregations.

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For Discussion:

1. Is Danís situation unique, or does hybridity really offer a path forward for lots of churches?

2. Has anyone seen other hybrid models out there that we can learn from?

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  • Posted by

    I am associated with a hybrid model here in Minneapolis, MN - one side, a traditional pres. model, and on the other, a text-book (if there could ever be such a thing :->) emergent model.  Up until recently, everything seemed to be working quite well.  A decision was made to do some integration between the two - the result was fascinating.  The difference between the worship syles, the music, etc. was not the issue at all - the issue was that of theology.  I was suprised that some on the staff of the emergent church were not believers at all (in the sense that they would never confess Jesus as God), however, they felt right at home trying to live a life like Jesus - his human example. 

    Book groups were formed and several of Brian McLaren’s books were studied - you can imagine what resulted in the more traditional conservative camp (yikes!). 

    Truth was found in scripture in one camp, and in the other, everything was up for grabs, and truth was to be determined by what the community decided was true. 

    It will be interesting to see how this relationship evolves over time.

    So much depends on whether or Scripture is considered authoritative, or just a nifty manual on how to live “right”.

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