Ramps vs. Signs – How to Be On Offense Without Being Offensive

Ramps, Not Signs

What are we afraid of?

So many churches and pastors act in fear and stay on defense when we should be acting in love and staying on offense.

I’m not saying that we need to be offensive. Quite the opposite.

A church on offense, a church that is aggressively offering concrete examples of Christ’s love to the world, will not push people away, but will draw them in, no matter how big or small we are.

It’s time to start getting innovative and aggressive about expressing Jesus’ love to people. And meeting them on their terms, not ours.

Today’s post is an excerpt from The Grasshopper Myth about one of the ways the Small Church I pastor, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, started operating in love, not fear. And how we continue to stay on offense, not defense.

Don’t do what we did.

It wouldn’t upset me if you copied us. It just wouldn’t work.

Our church isn’t your church. Our community isn’t your community. God’s way for us won’t be God’s way for you. Innovators don’t copy others. They follow God’s leading for them and their community.

But if the principles we stumbled upon can help you establish a foundation for outreach, innovation and health, we’ll all thank God together for it.


Trade Fear for Boldness

Most of the best ministries we start at Cornerstone happen when we do one critical thing: stop acting in fear and step out with boldness.

Fear keeps more churches on the defense than anything else. A defensive church can’t do anything but hang on for dear life to what it’s got – until it usually loses that too.

Cornerstone Skate ParkSeveral years ago we re-tarred our old, weathered church parking lot. The tar had barely dried on it when we started hearing a commotion outside. Local teens were showing up to skateboard on the smooth new surface.

That’s right. Teenagers just showed up, hanging around a church parking lot, thinking they had the right to use it as their own personal playground.

We had a choice to make. Did they have that right, or didn’t they? Was the building built to welcome the community or keep it out? Do we put up signs to keep them out, or do we find skateboard ramps to invite them in?

Churches on defense put up signs. Churches on offense put up ramps.

That was one of the defining moments of our church’s history. Not only do we still have the only skateboard park in the city, but those ramps and the attitude behind them have set the tone for everything we’ve done ever since.

Grab the opportunities when God gives them to you.

Determine that the church building is going to serve the ministry, not vice versa.

Build ramps, even if it costs you more parking spaces and liability insurance than you think you can afford. What you get in return is of far greater – literally eternal – value.

Since the day we chose ramps over signs, hundreds, maybe thousands of kids have come to what they call Skate Church to have fun, make friends and hear about Jesus.

Many of them have made commitments to follow Christ. Some of their families have followed. Several of them are in our church on Sundays now, while many are worshipping and serving God in dozens of other churches.

Small Church pastors like to complain that many big churches have given up passion for competence, but on the other side, many Small Churches have given up innovation for survival – offense for defense.

No one scores goals on defense.

And ramps are more fun than signs.

Today’s post is an excerpt from The Grasshopper Myth

So what do you think? Are there any “signs” your church has put up that are keeping people away? Any “ramps” you can build that would make them feel welcome?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(No Skateboarding photo from Justin Watt • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

(Skateboard Park photos from Gary Garcia • CornerstoneFV.com)

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2 thoughts on “Ramps vs. Signs – How to Be On Offense Without Being Offensive”

  1. Hi, I’m Colleen. I’m a small church member. I love the ramps! The ramps were one thing that drew us to Cornerstone. We’re over 60, have no kids or grand kids living locally who would enjoy the ramps, so why do I want to attend a church with skateboard ramps? You can see the ramps from the street and the ramps are screaming, “Hey, come on over, you’re welcome here. We want you you to come skate here. You’re important!” The ramps tell me that the people in this church aren’t afraid to do something different. They aren’t just sitting in pews on Sunday morning. There’s life here. Real life.

    Here’s what I’ve seen at Cornerstone in the past few years:
    — 70 & 80 year olds, the pillars of the church who have been here for 20 – 30 years or more, hugging the teens and 20-somethings on Sunday morning, welcoming them, genuinely loving them.
    — a midweek service, aimed not at the “pillars” but at the young people — lots of volume and energy, lots of kids, and lots of Jesus.
    — annual outreach to the community where a huge number of ordinary people give up their whole Sunday to fix-up a home for disadvantaged kids, make blankets for little ones in crisis, paint a graffiti-stained wall in the city, bring food to the homeless encamped near city hall, and more.

    This church isn’t hunkered down in the building in fear, we’ve got our spiritual armor on and we’re taking back ground.

    Thank you, Pastor Karl, Pastor Gary, and church, for not letting fear or size stop us from doing what The Lord has called us to do in this place at this time!

    1. What a great comment and wonderful surprise, Colleen! I had no idea the ramps were one of the reasons you and Tim chose Cornerstone as your home church. But I sure am glad you did.

      It makes my heart swell to read about the work we’re doing together as seen through your eyes. What a testament to God’s grace.

      I am blessed beyond words. Thank you.

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