Open-Mic Church

I’ve had a vision to start a church for a little while, a vision which I share with my Brother-in-Law. As of right now, we call it Open-Mic Church.

The format is simple:

Meetings revolve around a timed, open-mic sharing time (think TED talk), loosely facilitated by dedicated Elders. No paid staff and no owned building… no emo worship band.

A weekly topic will be given in advance for the Body to meditate, pray, and live over. Sign-ups will then be first-come, first-serve with a two-week-in-a-row speaking limit (to encourage different voices). Members can fill their time with teaching, singing, Q & A, performance, liturgy, whatever.

To encourage commitment and community, only members can participate, though participation isn’t required and anyone can come.

Open-Mic Church—not a replacement of the current system, but an alternative, a bridge—will be a place for change; a place for people to learn, argue, and interact with one another; a place where the average church goer can impact more than just a pew cushion.

That’s the vision in a nutshell.

Moving Forward

I had church today. Over coffee, with a friend, it was great. We met at a cafe and spoke about Jesus. We encouraged one another, challenged each other.

Struggles were confessed and visions were deciphered.

Although I was tired, grumpy, and a little hungover—the “Highlife” is not all it’s cracked up to be—today’s meeting was just amazing.

My friend spoke some truth that woke me up.

With this church thing, I get to the point of giving up—thinking Open-Mic will never happen, wondering if it even needs to. Then, I run into someone, like my friend, who reminds me that movement starts with action, not words.

I talk with other believers who lack an identity or connection in the modern church, and like me, thirst for it in a new and vibrant way. They remind me that the vision isn’t mine alone. That I’m just a small part of the puzzle, shaped uniquely for the Kingdom of God.

Moving For Ward

I’m fairly certain my vision of Church wont change the world. I don’t think it needs to. There’s a lie going around, telling people my age that if your faith doesn’t impact millions, then it’s not worth having or sharing.

I’d disagree. I’d say faith is best when it’s personal.

Relationships are more important than status. Find two or three people and pour yourself into them, and them to you. Small and personal grassroots ministries, I believe, are a lost art and the only way back to Acts 2.

I’d love to see more of that. Let’s get back there.

If 20 or 30 people can find a home, can find a Body, at Open-Mic Church (or whatever it will be called), then that’ll be fine. Maybe, 20 or 30, or 2 or 3, or one friend at a cafe, is all who I’m called to impact.

I guess we’ll see.


I’d love to get some feedback on the Open-Mic idea. What do you think?



  1. I like that you a thinking outside the box! That is refreshing!

    Can you speak to the idea of why the need for “open mic” church? I mentioned in another post that I attended a church similar to this idea of yours and there def. were pros and cons. The cons one guy went on a rabbit trail…but the pro was it was extremely meaningful for him to work something out in his life (just happened to be in front of everyone). The pro, this congregation believes the Holy Spirit speaks through everyone.

    Some questions: Why limit people to only speaking 2 times in a row if they can only speak for 2 minutes? Is 2 minutes really enough time to get an idea out? Would your congregation participate in offering and or communion?

    1. Did I say 2 minutes??? Uh oh. I’ll have to find that. That’s an error. Ten minutes is what I’ve been thinking. In my opinion, ten minutes would protect against unnecessary rabbit trailing.

      Also, restricting members from speaking two times in a row keeps the meetings fresh, and also protects against people “hogging” the stage, so to speak. It would hopefully encourage people to listen as much as they talk.

      I think communion could happen. These things would be talked about and voted on as a family, case-by-case basis I think.

      1. Like I mentioned earlier, I really appreciate this different way of “doing church.” It appears the focus would be on family and discipleship more that evangelism. I think the cool part about this model is being able to see people grow spiritually. Also…that you are not shying away from other ideas as you want other voices to share. What happens when there is a disagreement in the congregation? Will the Elders or you step up and take the lead if needed?

    2. Thanks Bryan, I really appreciate the encouragement. I think, in general, church meetings should be about discipleship and the weekdays about evangelism.

      With no money, building, or music to bicker over, I’m not sure what the Body would fight about (there’s bound to be something, I know).

      In this stage of the vision, I’m not sure I have an answer for such hypotheticals, ya know?

      Ultimately, disagreement is to be expected. The hope is to build a Body upon the foundation of academic arguments, to welcome disagreements and alternating perspectives.

      1. That’s great! I think some churches more than shy away from opposing views and that is why they set up doctrinal statements. I don’t think Jesus ever had those. When I was a Pastor at a large church I started our “young adult” 4th worship service. Because of that, I always have questions about (in my case) church services or (in your case) a new type of church.
        It sounds as if this “model” is more of a family model and if that is the case you will handle issue and problems like every other family does. A healthy family handles problems in a healthy way.
        The other cool part about your vision is it appears you will be a “tent-maker” as well.

  2. At one church I served, we opened the service with a “Prayers of the People” where people voiced joys, concerns, and testimonies — usually brief, followed by a responsive “Praise be to God,” “Lord, hear our prayer,” or “Holy Spirit be with us.” It sounds rote writing it out, but some powerful things were shared. My problem with shaping an entire service out of somewhat random, extemporaneous speeches is that most people I know who choose to speak in public prepare very poorly. I hate to be cynical, but the people who often step forward are those who merely like to hear themselves speak. If you could somehow build a high-commitment gathering where everyone contributed in some way, and you got more reluctant speakers who often speak with more depth, you might have something.

    1. First of all, Tony, you have taught me a new word. “Rote” is now officially part of my vocabulary. So, thank you. I also think that you have some great points here.

      For us (the visioneers), we’d hope the weekly topic would keep everyone on track, allowing of course for a little wiggle room. By limiting people to speaking only two weeks in a row, I believe we’d allow room for the more reluctant speakers.

      Everything is so hypothetical, I know; I imagine talking about it and doing it are two very different things.

  3. Kind of reminds me of growing up in the old pentecostal church my grandpa pastored and having testimony time. Three or four people would get up and talk about what the Lord had been doing in there life…and that was before the preaching! We’d wouldn’t get to restaurant til almost 2 o’clock sometimes! Haha

    Anyway, I think open mic church is an awesome idea! Fresh, innovative, and all that jazz, just a really cool concept. Definitely a place I would frequent!

    Keep the faith and keep the vision bro

    1. OH jeez. Long pentecostal services… I imagine, as a kid, that was probably not your favorite? I don’t think I would’ve lasted.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Ian!

  4. I love it Kevin! Your so smart. I think God gives you wisdom, and you know how to listen as he smiles down on you! MOM

  5. Reblogged this on Essential Thinking and commented:
    Reblogging this post about another very embryonic church vision that a friend of mine is involved with- Kevin, hopefully you’ll see the post by Rob that I’ve also reblogged and it might help you… for anyone else out there- these two posts represent two important points on the continuum of church development and its really interesting how these things emerge. As for my own stuff- we’re at both and neither of these points… thats part of the challenge of leading a more established form of church where some folks are completely new to the whole idea of God and others have been in the same space for longer than i’ve been alive.

  6. “There’s a lie going around, telling people my age that if your faith doesn’t impact millions, then it’s not worth having or sharing.

    I’d disagree. I’d say faith is best when it’s personal.

    Relationships are more important than status. Find two or three people and pour yourself into them, and them to you. Small and personal grassroots ministries, I believe, are a lost art and the only way back to Acts 2.

    I’d love to see more of that. Let’s get back there.”

    Keep at it, Kevin!

    To the first part of the quote: it definitely IS best when its personal. At least in my experience, where leadership was always pouring over attendance numbers, giving record totals, baptisms, new converts etc…basically results driven (i can say this due to having access to what went on behind the scenes) – I have found that there is very little room for truly getting personal when one is so focused on results for ‘the kingdom’. Mainly because it takes too long to be personal.

    That is where my wife and I and a few neighbors are at. Leaving behind the “do church” and trusting God as we interact with others about how to “be” the church, His Body. To just live it.

    Which thankfully brings me to the second part of your quote:

    My wife and I have been gathering with a small group of about 3, sometimes four families about every other week. We share a meal, there is communion and we have been taking turns in sharing, and even in that, the ‘lesson’ or ‘message’ or topic is more conversational. It has been very, very refreshing compared to what I used to be doing.

    I don’t think I have “arrived” yet at an answer, but I am very comfortable with God to being big enough to answer the questions of “how” and “what” and whether or not there is a “better” way. I personally think smaller groups are going to continue building in a preferred method of gathering and having community with other believers. My .02 on the matter. 🙂

    1. I like your thoughts on “doing church” and “being church.” That is an eye opener, for sure. I’m glad you and your wife have found a group; it sounds like a great situation. My wife and I are moving in a week or so to Rochester. I hope we can find something similar there.

  7. I think I like parts of this yet it causes me to think back to some of the founders of early “church” as we know it when we say “only members can participate” and how they must have struggled with structure. What’s it take to become a member of a body of people that by definition doesn’t really exist other than to gather periodically and share whats on their hearts? In most churchs you become a member and agree to their general theology and by the majority vote are “in”! Great topic Kev!!

  8. I love the idea ….. it’s got to be worth stepping out and trying … Don’t you think.
    Don’t get bogged down in the what ifs …. That can come later, in the meantime gather people and go for it.
    If I’ve learned anything from being involved in the gathering it is that we need to be willing to step with an embryo of an idea and allow God, rather than ourselves, to form and shape as you move on.
    I love the idea of a theme which people think about over the week and then bring something for the mic. We do similar in the gathering although its monthly and people bring a ‘station’ to help our thinking. The open mic idea though is more akin to my understanding of how synagogues used to work ….. scripture was read, a Babi would stand and give a view and sit down, there would be discussion, then another rabbi would stand and give an alternative thought, sit down … more discussion and so on. I look forward to hearing when y have started …. Blessings with you …. and thanks for aiding my thinking too!

  9. It’s a unique concept, my thoughts would be since you are redefining the nature of an organized church entity, maybe you should call it something else. No confusion, no comparison, no debates, just genuine purpose of fellowship, dialogue and participation using spirituality as the communication base.

    1. That’s a great idea; I totally agree. We’ve gone back and forth on the name and haven’t come up with anything solid yet. We’ll see. I think it’s important, as you mentioned, to prevent comparison as much as possible.

  10. Kevin, as always, your thoughfulness, sincerity, and concerns are all admirable, and I do appreciate them. But I there are a couple things that concern me about what you are suggesting.
    Before that though I would like to point out that what you are suggesting is not entirely new, in fact the service you are describing fits what the original Quakers did to a “T.” It also echoes the model of worship Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 – so that’s awesome!

    My concerns though are: first, who leads? And second, what are your safeguards?

    Regarding the first concern, I have no personal experience with such worship services, but I have a friend who for a time attended a church that attempted to follow a model somewhat like yours. Like your model, this church had “elders,” but because they were so quick to delegate and be open to others their role was never clearly defined, and since everyone was expected to lead, then no one really did.

    Regarding the second concern, there have been many many “churches” and denominations that have, in my (and many others’) opinion have ceased to truly be churches because they have abandoned the authority of the Bible, and the preaching of the gospel of salvation from sin found in Jesus Christ alone. I do not mean to imply that what you are suggesting will inevitably lead to that, but it is very clear that many of those former churches began their drift when their attention left faithfulness to the teachings of the Scripture and went to what people “thought” about God, or how they had “experienced” God, and what they “heard” God tell them. I do believe those things have their place, and the Church should be doing them, but their place is UNDER the authority of Scripture, and there should be faithful leaders who have studied and know the Bible and can make sure the discussion does not go outside of what Scripture teaches.

    As I said before, I appreciate what you’re saying, but it is important to remember that there is another side to this issue, that we would do well not to neglect.

    1. Hey! Thanks so much for chiming in. This blog post is near and dear to my heart, and I’m taking any advice that I can get!

      First off, I’ve also noticed a similarity between this idea and the Old-School Quaker worship. I don’t think it will be EXACTLY the same (no silent worship, probably), but yes, it’s similar in concept.

      Secondly, all the details are by no means figured out. This is all just “idea mode.” It helps greatly to have your suggestions. Will there be a Statement of Faith? Probably. Do I know what it is yet? No way. But it’s safe to say, I think you’re right.

      However, I do stick with the notion that the open-course speaking/sharing will be given and heard in the spirit academic argument and debate. It’s easy to say, “Scripture is truth,” but harder to say which interpretation is truth. I guess that is the basis of Open-Mic Church.

      We’re not coming in thinking we know everything; we’re coming in knowing that the Truth is in our reach, and we’ll search and learn together. Again, this is all preliminary theory. Does that make any sense?

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