In Celebration of Quirky Churches

Stay Quirky, My FriendsI like quirky churches.

And I’m pretty sure God does, too. Just take a look at the astonishing variety of churches in the New Testament. Not to mention the churches and church leaders he’s used in the last 2,000 years.

Some churches stay small because they’re boring. Some churches get big and then get boring.

Other churches stay small because they stay quirky. We don’t need less of them. We need more of them. And we don’t need them to be less quirky. We need them to turn the quirky up!

If your church is being genuine in its expression of the gospel and staying true to yourself, we celebrate you.

If your church is reaching a segment of society no one else is reaching, we celebrate you.

If your church causes churchy people shake their heads in confusion at the way you do things, we celebrate you.


Quirky Is About Honesty and Boldness

If your idea of quirky is to play games with foundational biblical theology – that’s not quirky, that’s heresy. Quirky churches don’t change the things that matter – they cling for dear life to them. 

If your idea of quirky is trying to be cool and relevant – nope, not that either. The cool kids don’t do quirky. They do cool. Cool is overrated.

Quirky churches aren’t stuck in old, dry, irrelevant ruts, either. Genuinely following Jesus will always keep us from that.

So quirky churches don’t mess with the fundamentals. And they don’t worry about passing fads. They’re not chasing culturally relevance. But they are contextually real. Quirky churches are the ones that dare to do the bible stuff in a way that works for them and the people God is calling them to reach. No matter how strange it looks to everyone else.

In a recent blog post, entitled You Don’t Need to Become a Better WriterJeff Goins wrote about keeping passion in your writing. And it applies just as much to preaching and pastoring. Here’s some of it.


You don’t need to become better; you need to be bolder.

In order to get the kind of attention your words deserve, you need to earn our trust, to give people permission to be themselves. And the best way to do that is to go first. To tell that story of abuse. Confess your fears. Admit you were wrong.

Only when you go there, when you risk utter humiliation and rejection, will we listen to what you have to say.

Until then, you’re just wasting your words.

Writing isn’t about being good

It’s about telling the truth.

“Good” is about what other people think. It’s about badges and accolades and pleasing the masses.

Good isn’t good enough

Good won’t get you where you want to go. It won’t get you published, and it certainly won’t earn you a raving fan base. Only honesty can do that.

The problem is most writers seek first the approval of others and then chase their art — when it ought to be the other way around.

If you are going to say something worth our attention, something we haven’t heard before, you must be yourself. Write from the heart even, no especially, when it scares you.

Because that’s the stuff worth reading.

– Jeff Goins (


Quirky churches are led by bold pastors.

The church needs more leaders like that. Leaders who care more about communicating truthfully, living with integrity and training passionate disciples than they are about worshiping the false idol of technical excellence.

That requires honesty. Brutal honesty. Honesty that doesn’t care about accolades, but lives a life of rawness and realism.


Why Is Everyone Rushing to Be Boring?

But too often, in too many churches, even churches that start with a spirit of passion and quirkiness, we’re too quick to trade quirky for safe. Safe is boring. Boring churches won’t change the world.

In established churches, doing quirky is harder. And if you force it, you won’t get quirky, you’ll get weird. And you’ll probably get fired.

So don’t aim for quirky, aim for genuine. Quirkiness should never be our goal. But we need to celebrate it when it happens as the byproduct and the evidence of being genuine.

If you’re a church planter, I want to encourage you to keep the quirky, entrepreneurial spirit alive as long as possible.

Why does it seem like so many church planters are in a rush for their churches to become as dull as the rest of us?

If you have people who are willing to plant a church with you, they’ve already demonstrated that they’re quirkier, bolder and more adventurous than 90% of the population – and maybe 99% of the church population. Why would we want to stifle that creative, quirky adventurous spirit any sooner than we have to?


Stay Quirky, My Friends

So, to all the quirky churches and their leaders – both new and established – I say this.

Experiment, fail, have fun and stay quirky as long as possible. But above all, stay true to how God made you – and how he called you to minister.

Institutionalism will come – like un unstoppable virus, it will come. Don’t rush into it. It will rush to you, soon enough.

Yes, it’s more comfortable to be less quirky. And comfort makes for an easier life. It might even build a bigger church. But comfort never makes a great church.

One of the reasons I’m such a fan of Small Churches is that Small Churches can stick with being unique, genuine and quirky more easily than big ones.

We can experiment. We can make mistakes. We can learn and grow. So, while you’re small, use your size to your quirky advantage.


So what do you think? Is your church quirky? If so, how can you use that to your church’s, and the kingdom of God’s advantage?

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10 thoughts on “In Celebration of Quirky Churches”

  1. I like the way you think! A year ago our church began to make the transition from leaders down ministry and started to adopt congregation up ministry. The leaders empower, enable and encourage the people to look where the Holy Spirit is working and join in. My job as leader is to present the “What” and the “Why” the people do the “How,” “When,” and “Where.” …The “Who” we all understand to be the world outside our door. It was a little scary at first, and we’ve made some mistakes and needed some “Do Overs” but We are doing ministry in “50” ways instead of just 10 or 20 ways. And Yes, we’re pretty quirky. As an example, our guys right now are planning “Predator Day.” Our church-men are forming teams of anyone in the community. Starting at daybreak on an upcoming Saturday those teams will go out to call in and shoot legal predators, fellowship, talk about Jesus and try to bring in the Best, Largest, Most Diverse, predator at the 6:00 PM deadline. The winners get “Bragging Rights,” the pelts will go to charities and the relationships established that day will go on to bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Whether it’s counting prairie chickens, shooting trap, giving low income moms manicures and spoiling while we watch their children, or open our facility to after school activities, our people are creatively quirky in the ways they are effectively sharing Jesus and the Kingdom is Growing. Sundays are for refueling, Church happens “Out There” all week long!

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  3. Good article Karl (but then, maybe that’s a clear sign of my quirkiness!). I’m the editor of our diocese Constant Contact newsletter (Episcopal Diocese of Central New York), and I’d like to get permission to republish this article in our next newsletter… I will, of course, give links to your website and credit to you for writing it! Thanks for considering this!

  4. Thanks for the blog and especially this article. For several years we have been first church of the quirks. We have much discussion during the sermon or allow the congregation to do the sermon with many sharing their revelation as the Holy Spirit leads. We were called CafeJAM for 12 years, “Calling All For Eternity, Jesus Awesome Messiah.” Primarily a coffee house church which featured local, regional and national artists in concerts. After live music (rock bands) became the norm, we changed the name to NEO60 Worship Studio (NEO being New Earth Outreach, for the New Heaven and new earth that’s coming, 6 for the number of man, zero for the number of people God wants to see lost — none, and worship studio because it doesn’t sound like church. We still feature random artists but are focusing mostly on events that appeal to pre-Christians and share Jesus with them in a non-threatening environment. So far for us, quirk works. Thanks again for a great article. – Pastor T

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