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Friday, January 30, 2009 

Innovative Ablaze! Funds Outreach

This was sent to the inbox from a longtime reader:

On Saturday January 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. gas prices are falling.
Jordan Lutheran Church is giving the people of western Wake County a little break from the slowing economy at the Dolphins BP station located at 5016 Common Hills Drive in Cary. The church is buying down gas $0.50 per gallon and selling it for two hours at the discounted rate.
Here is how it will work. Anyone wanting the discounted rate must be at the gas station between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The limit is 15 gallons of gasoline per vehicle. The goal is to "share the wealth" with as many people as possible!
Mike Merker, Pastor of Jordan Lutheran Church says, "People often ask why we do these types of events? The number one reason is that we want the community to know that Jesus cares for even their practical needs. We believe that showing kindness in a practical way is what Jesus would do if He were walking the earth today. We are to be Jesus' hands' and feet."
This discounted rate comes just in time for everyone who is feeling the crunch of Christmas bills. Merker added. "We want to change the way people think about church. God was the best giver of all, so that is what we want to do, give!"
Jordan Lutheran Church will begin worshipping on February 8, in Beaver Creek Cinemas located at 1441 Beaver Creek Commons Drive in Apex. The worship services start at 9:30 a.m. with a nursery and children's church available for young kids.

Jordan Lutheran Church defines itself as a cooperative partnership of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

My only commentary is that the prices and availability of a good single malt scotch in the Haut South is something that brings me significant stress. I wonder if my congregation would be willing to accept Ablaze! monies so as to do a single malt scotch outreach. This is certainly not a new idea as the awesomeness that is Mollie has long advocated for a “bar ministry.” I think she might be joking but I’m certainly not. What a great way to sit down, relax, and talk about everyone’s favorite movement. Just a thought...

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I've never had single malt scotch.

I feel deprived!

I'm more of a beer guy, but I DO like Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon.

Why does everybody want to change the way a church looks? It's good that they are reaching out but can't church still look like church?

Because they hate "church" (?)

Well... that will definitely change the way people think about church. Especially if, until this point, they weren't thinking of it in terms of embarrassing gimmicks.

My hubby would like the scotch outreach.

I'm there -- but I want a ride home!

Doing some digging, as I think more about this.

Why is Ablaze money being used to plant churches that don't seem to show up in the synod listings? Are we launching non-denominational churches now?

Why are so many of these "innovative" church plants our synod is funding in mostly upper-middle class bedroom communities of large metro areas? None of these areas are places that are UNDER-served by Christian churches! There are two other Missouri-Synod churches within 15 miles of the one the article is about!

Other fancy innovative church plants I've checked on have had as many at 8 or 9 other LCMS churches within a 1/2 hrs drive. It's weird.

Ya know, this is really poor stewardship of their time and effort. If they want to give away money, why not just give people cold hard CASH for coming to church.

Wasn't there some priest in New York who was paying hookers and drug dealers $5 a pop for sitting through a church service?

I mean streamlining is all the talk in synod nowadays. Really. Cut the fuss. Just pass the dough.

Well, this church isn't selling cheap gas to people who come to church on Sunday for the service. They're just selling cheap gas to whoever in town shows up for it for those two hours on a Saturday.

It's not like there's anything wrong with doing something nice for your community if you're a church. But to me, this sounds like a strange way of doing it. They're not giving anything away, and certainly not to the especially poor. They're just having a discount sale, like a vendor who wants to attract attention by selling 1/2 price candy bars or something. It has the feel of the same sort of showy generosity as high tipping- attracting attention to one's self. If I were an agnostic passer-by purchasing the cheap gas, I'd be driving away from the building thinking, "Poor suckers." I don't think I'd be impressed by the generosity, really, because it so smacks of someone trying to get attention through some kind of bait.

I'm a member at Jordan and would love to clarify the posts and comments about Jordan Lutheran Church and the Gas Buy Down event. I worked the event and we were able to tell 250 families that our new Lutheran church is starting and invited them to join us as we start worship services on Feb 8. We probably had 15-20 people openly say they don't have a church and were looking for one and said they would be there. The gas buy down gave us a chance to talk openly about our church and invite them to worship. What good would giving out cash at church do? We wanted to reach everyone, rich, poor, non church goers, elderly, young...not just those in our pews on Sunday.

As for the "partnership" of the LCMS. We aren't officially a church yet, which is why we aren't on the roster and by Synod's standards aren't considered a CHURCH.

Ablaze is about telling people who don't know about Jesus Christ and we were able to share our faith and invite them to services at that event. Please pray for our church and our pastor as we start services this Sunday and we share the grace and love of Jesus Christ to a world who doesn't know Him! Let Jesus Christ be praised!

Anonymous, You are to be commended for inviting the folks to church, most Ablaze! stories on the website fail even that. But don’t you think this comes across as gimmicky? We are to help those in the world but your buy down event just seems to come across as a bait and switch; we’ll give you cheap gas and you should come visit us. Dont get me wrong, I hope that the people who got the cheap gas go to your church but I’m just skeptical that this will work.

Anon. from Jordan Lutheran Church - thanks for explaining why you guys aren't showing up yet on the synod site. I thought even little bitty mission churches were listed, but maybe that's not the case.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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