Look Back On Season One

by Jim Henderson on May 16, 2016

Season One of OAMC is a wrap. Given the curiosity around our experiment I wanted to give a review of what we learned this first year.

First to the question Christians seem most curious about. Did we grow numerically?

No, we started with 40 and shrunk to 12. Why? Here are my best guesses…  no kids program, we only meet one time a month, not a convenient location, the preaching and music were not that great, our format is very much like most church services (sing- teach-interview- communion- closing song- prayer) – some people were hoping we’d be more innovative, inclusive or inventive. (Our only unique thing is The Interview which replaces The Sermon) Others wanted more churchiness/religion (which we purposely suck at). We also interrupted one planned OAMC with a football game (not a great momentum builder) and we moved the date of OAMC each month for the first few months.

How do I feel about that? 

Since none of us depend upon OAMC for an income I feel fine. It gave me the space to test ideas and not be concerned who came or didn’t. We didn’t need money or volunteers for anything so there was no pressure to “grow” the church. I’d like more people to attend our OAMC but none of the other people seemed at all concerned about it. I asked them.

How do you measure success when money and attendance don’t “count”?

Relationships and respect. I witnessed both of those grow between people who didn’t know each other before. This translated into new friendships and spiritual development in our lives. Because we devote the majority of our “church service” to “The Interview” we were able to hear about the unique journeys and experiences from people both inside and outside our community. Some people also appreciated being able to use OAMC as “cover” when asked about which church they belonged to :-). That made us happy.

What else worked?

Pop up groups. Spontaneous groups anyone could host announced just a few days before the event. People gathered to talk about books they were reading, recitals and just to walk together. Our only rule? If no one shows up don’t take it personally or whine about it. Everyone is busy. They’re not rejecting you personally. Its not OAMCs job to make sure your group is a success. Be an adult and even if one person shows up have a good time. Also meeting on Sunday morning in a public place is critical. This is what our culture has been trained to expect, so if you are going to “do church” thats the time they have decided “counts”. For both Christians and non Christians that takes precedence over how many people show up.

Will there be a Season Two?

 Yes we had fun, we’ll announce the schedule for 2016-17 sometime in August. We will probably move our location further north since some of the people I hoped to attract by being closer to the city didn’t show up.

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