By Ryan Weaver, Lead pastor/planter of Remedy Church in Salisbury, Md.
“So… your church smells like butter?”
During my first month as a church planter, I knew that I would encounter all kinds of questions about Remedy Church, why we exist, our plans for the future, what prompted us to launch in a movie theater, and whatnot. However, I was much less prepared to answer questions about what my church smelled like.
In a live-to-tape television interview for SU-TV on the Salisbury University campus, I was asked this very question. I wasn’t completely caught off guard by the question (we do, after all, hold our worship services at the Regal Cinemas in Salisbury, Md.), but I was amused that this phrase was being used to describe my one-month-old church… on public television. The interviewer had overheard a friend describing his experience at Remedy’s first preview service, where I had joked during the message that we were meeting in the movie theater solely because it smelled like butter. Consequently, the Remedy Church tagline was born… “The Church that Smells like Butter.”
The Apostle Paul of Tarsus once said, “God uses us to spread His knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume” (see 2 Cor. 2:14b, New Century Version). While the smell of buttery popcorn is not quite “sweet-smelling perfume,” it is a smell that evokes emotions and triggers memories. Americans all over the country venture into their local movie theater on Friday and Saturday nights to laugh, to cry, to escape, to learn, to sing, to dream, to think, to overcome, to be entertained, to be inspired, to be challenged, to find Truth. I am convinced that Sunday morning shouldn’t be any different!
For my church (and our committed supporters), launching Remedy Church in the local movie theater was an act of faith. For me, it was a decision grounded in the vision to launch a church that elevates Christ, restores community and plants new churches (we simplify this to six letters: GO… BE… DO…). The physical location of our Remedy Church building has been key to our early growth and our momentum. (The Regal Cinemas are positioned adjacent to the Centre at Salisbury Mall at the corner of Routes 13 and 50.) Our visitors already know the layout of the theater, and thus, they know what sights, sounds and smells to expect.
Now that we have moved from the land of a pre-launched church to the entirely new land of the post-launched church, I have embarked upon the perpetual refining of Remedy Church’s vision and process. A simple question that I have been asking myself weekly since we launched on Jan. 10,2010, is, “For what do I want Remedy Church to be known in this city?” It’s a worthy question. A wise pastor-mentor recently told me, “You need to listen to the ‘buzz’ about your church in the community. What are people saying about Remedy?” The things that our congregations are known for locally will influence the things that we are known for regionally and globally. So, here are three things that the Lord has firmly impressed upon my heart and led me to settle upon as I have sorted through many, many answers to this question:
#1… Ridiculous Generosity…
As followers of the One True God, we should be known for our LOVE (see Matt. 13:34-35). I am convinced that love is best expressed both in how freely we give from our hearts and how loosely we hold our “stuff.” I hope that every attendee at Remedy Church is known for his and her ridiculous generosity. The danger with generosity is that it can make us feel empowered rather than humbled. I hope that we are humbled by the amount that the Lord leads us to give away. I hope we are known for the way that we tip waiters and waitresses. I hope that we are known for the way that we help the poor. I hope that we are known for the way that we give of our time and our energy and our finances and our stuff. This is love. This is the Way of Love.
#2… Big Dreams…
As followers of the One True Creator, we should be known for our DREAMS. I am convinced that the Church should be filled with the most creative, enthusiastic, artsy, visioneering and dynamic individuals on the planet. I hope that every attendee at Remedy Church will be able to resonate with the words of a Remedy visitor that I had coffee with two weeks ago. He said the following words through tears while sitting in the midst of a busy Starbucks: “I thought this dream was dead. I mean, I knew that it was still within me, but I thought it would just stay there… in my heart. I haven’t talked about it in years. Now I know that God placed it in my heart for me to chase.” The danger with pursuing our God-given dream is that it may lead us to chase the dream rather than the One Who Originates Dreams. May our dreams lead us to the Creator.
#3… Faith that is Alive…
As followers of the Living God, we should be known for our FAITH that both believes deeply and moves decisively (see James 2:26). I am convinced that our faith is meant to drive us to introspection, repentance and the study of the Word. Yet, I am equally convinced that our faith should be shown in our actions. I hope that every Remedy Church attendee will be impacted by God’s love and grace in such a way that they will then live their faith selflessly. The only danger in choosing to live our faith is that this path is promised to be difficult and far from “dead” (see Luke 9:23-24). May my young congregation be known for its huge faith in a huge God.
In the end, “The Church that Smells like Butter” is simply a silly tag-line. But a church that smells like the Savior—the Good Shepherd—that’s worth living and fighting and dying for.
Ryan Weaver is the Lead Pastor/Planter of Remedy Church in Salisbury, Md. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @RyanWeaver.