Church Surfer Project

Hello friends! We are Wendell and Ginger Terrell and we are excited to be a part of the Church Surfer project. We will be visiting a different church every week and then providing feedback on our experience. We offer two very different perspectives as obviously we are male and female, and we have two very different backgrounds.

Our desire is to be able to allow people to see that we are very relatable. We don’t have all the answers, we both seek God every day but sometimes fail miserably, and we’re working through our own questions and challenges.

Our goal is not to criticize doctrine or worship styles, but simply to share our first impressions and experiences of different churches during any given service time. If we have a terrible experience (which we surely hope will not happen), we simply will not even mention the church in our blog.

His Perspective

He’s from Chattanooga, but he didn’t grow up in church (shocker!). In fact, he didn’t even come to know Christ as Savior until he was 40 years old. He has no idea what church “should be” and hasn’t been inundated with religious experiences. He can relate to the one who struggles to read their Bible as he has dyslexia, so he listens to it every night on his Android as he goes to bed. He can relate to addicts and those who feel hopeless, and when he visits your church he’ll be tattooed and probably in flip flops and shorts or jeans and tennis shoes. You won’t ever find him in a suit and tie and he’s just down home country – very simple. He loves race cars, fishing and camping, and he’s a floor installer by trade. Most of all, he wants to know Jesus and he wants to please Him. His favorite Bible personality is David, his favorite Book of the Bible is Psalms, and he probably would have hung out with the likes of Peter. He’s in transformation stage and learning and growing. He won’t have many theological discussions with you, but he can smell fake a mile away and won’t be afraid to tell you. Underneath it all, he has a heart that is willing to give and who cares about people.

Her Perspective

She grew up in Chattanooga and attended an independent Baptist church and school. She was saved at the age of five. She has been the prodigal, she has suffered through addictions and failed relationships, she has struggled greatly back and forth with her faith, and she has had her own Jonah experience. Her travels have led her to different denominations and religions, a house church, working in Corporate America, attending a secular college, and currently working on her Bachelors at a local Christian college. Around 2010, she had a life altering experience with Jesus where she unequivocally could no longer deny He is our Savior and that the Bible is our final authority in all matters. She rededicated her life through genuine repentance and has never looked back to her old lifestyle. When she visits your church, she’ll likely be in a pair of jeans (she doesn’t even own a dress). She is adamant that she sits under sound doctrine and can usually detect error, hypocrisy and a religious spirit a mile away. She is strong-willed and intelligent, but has a huge heart for the one who admits they are broken. She refuses to allow tradition and rules and regulations to dominate her life. If you’re religious – beware! If you’re authentic, she has much grace. She is definitely a work in progress and God is still working on her gutsy, in-your-face personality. Humility is not one of her strong points, but she’s working on it. Her favorite Bible personality is Peter and her favorite book of the Bible is Revelation.

Post-Church Christianity?

As some of you know, I’m eye deep in research for a school project. I’ve chosen the topic of why the younger generation (mostly Millienials, but also some Gen X&Y) is leaving the traditional church as we know it.

I’m reading a book by Paul and Carson Nyquist entitled “The Post Church Christian.” Wow! What an eye opener. I’ve been on board with my good friend and pastor John for several years now that we’ve been experiencing a culture shift within the church and if we don’t educate ourselves on what’s going on, we will find ourselves frustrated and behind the times when it comes to the current generation’s thoughts and attitudes about church and God and our relationship to both.

Back to the book I’m reading…Carson is a Millenial and Paul is a Baby Boomer. The book provides an inside look into the heart and mind of both generations and the blog post below by Dineen resonated with something Carson said in the book. He explained that the Millenial generation (those born between 1982 and 2000) is one that has the need to create. They aren’t going to be mini versions of their Baby Boomer parents. And Paul acknowledges this as he realizes his kids are growing up in a completely different society.

As the church, we need to be willing to set aside the preferences and old way of doing things to allow for the creativity that God has given this generation to expand His kingdom. Dineen’s blog below resonates with that creativity and I thought it would be helpful for us all to be reminded that because we are created in God’s image, we too are born with the capacity to create and do great things.

I encourage you as well to begin your own research on why the church is shifting and why things aren’t going the way you think they should be. There are many great resources. Books like “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity, and Why it Matters,” “Already Gone,” “Ethoshift,” “You Lost Me,” etc are presenting the reality of what people really think about Christianity.

We all have had the conversations about what is happening and why this and why that. Educate yourself. Be willing to let go of your past traditions (or at least don’t impose them on others), and allow this generation’s creativity to blaze the trail ahead of you. Be willing to jump on board with these younger ones and get out of your comfort zone and your box and be open to how God is using this generation to proclaim his love, grace, and forgiveness to our post-christian America.

I like Carson’s attitude…be willing to just engage the world as it is. Quit trying to “win America back to Jesus.” Instead go be Jesus to your neighbors. Live among them; engage them in conversation; be their friend. That is what produces long-lasting change. Remember, Jesus didn’t try to “win Jerusalem,” he came to “make disciples” who in turn turned their world upside down.

What can you do today, tomorrow, and this year to be creative in your approach to sharing the gospel with the small corner of the world God has given to you? What can you do to move beyond “what you’ve always known” to step out in faith into the unknown? What can you do to move past your neatly packaged christianity (it’s “supposed” to look like “this”) to see and be a part of the reality of what God is doing in the messy details of the reality of everyday life? What can you do to take the timeless principles and truths of God’s Word and make them relevant for this generation?

This generation craves social interaction, brutal authenticity, and a place where they can feel safe to be authentic without being handed some spiritual cliche’ to answer the reality of their lives. What are you doing to create that kind of place which will give you the “right” to engage them in the spiritual conversation? You’ll have to earn that right in this generation by befriending them first. Then and only then will they hear what is important to you. We must get creative about going to them. They won’t be coming to us any time soon.

Be creative! (Don’t forget to read Dineen’s blog post HERE).