SIDEBAR Scum of the Earth Church

by Craig L. Blomberg

I belong to a missional church in Denver, Colorado, that has the vision of contagious holiness over dinner. We call our church Scum of the Earth Church (from 1 Corinthians 4:13). Our church is a 10-year old urban congregation of about 200, largely young adults. Mike Sares, our senior pastor, wrote a book about our story: Pure Scum: The Left Out, the Right-Brained and the Grace of God (InterVarsity Press, 2010).

We have no membership. We have a large circle of lay leaders, a lay church council, and pastoral staff. To be involved in any of these groups you must be a maturing Christian. To take Communion you must be able to say you love Jesus (and mean it). Otherwise, anyone is welcome at any church service or activity. In fact, we encourage skeptics and seekers to hang out with us and ask hard questions. We try to avoid giving simplistic answers. Some find Jesus in the process.

The larger of our two main services is on Sunday night, where, in the middle of our service — after worship and before the sermon — we eat a simple meal together. This is a perfect setting to catch up with friends and welcome newcomers.

Our smaller morning service begins with a shared breakfast and attracts a somewhat different, slightly older, congregation. A smattering of homeless people participate in one or both congregations. I have yet to see anyone corrupted by our non-Christian visitors or regular attenders. I have seen many people start to catch holiness by association with Christians, especially the more mature ones.