The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

My Photo
Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Little Country Church ...

It was a long time ago that Chuck Girard and Love Song penned "Little Country Church," but the song rang in my ears as I thought about a vision for "Meadowland."

"Little country church on the edge of town, do do do do do do do do
People coming everyday from miles around,
for meetings and for Sunday School

And it's very plain to see
It's not the way it used to be
Preacher isn't talking 'bout religion no more,
he just wants to praise the Lord
People aren't as stuffy as they were before,
they just want to praise the Lord
And it's very plain to see
It's not the way it used to be"

In 1996 I was part of a team that started a boomer-style contemporary worship service at Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The music was rock-style, the format was new, and the unchurched/dechurched people came as we hoped.

And Sunday morning was good.

It wasn't long before Ron, the soundman, and I started pondering what other musical genres would draw the unchurched/dechurched and country music came to mind. The problem: The contemporary service was all we could handle. So, the idea fell by the wayside.

In winter 2001-2002, I was consulting with another United Methodist Church in Knoxville that was looking to start an alternative to its traditional Sunday morning service. I got the feeling that the boomer-style format would not work, and it was confirmed by a look at the various bumper stickers found in the blue-collar/no-collar neighborhood: The stickers hawked "the Frog" -- WIVK, the leading radio station in the market, which featured country music as its format.

I suggested to the pastor and worship team that the country music format might be the way to go. Alas, it fell by the wayside.

To my knowledge, outside of a few "cowboy churches" scattered across the nation in rodeo towns (including one I recently read about in Happy, Texas), I don't think anyone is doing this: using the contemporary format, featuring country music and imagery, while centering on Christ. It is certainly not done in mainline churches, and if anyone else is doing it, they're hiding their light under a bushel.

Most of the time the hang-up is a lack of people willing to use their gifts (musical and otherwise) in such a service -- particularly unpaid servants. There is also an inability on the part of most churches to go through the in-house hoop-jumping to make such a service possible.

Green Meadow UMC (a.k.a., The Meadow) is a small church in terms of resources, but the congregation has a huge, willing heart when it comes to stepping out and doing new things to serve "the least, the last and the lost."

So, at a Church Council meeting I made a proposal: I would take out an ad in The (Maryville) Daily Times, explain that this is unpaid ministry, and if able people caught the vision, we would know this is from God.

People with whom I share the idea of such a service kinda go,"Wowwww," and I see this light in their eyes. However, no large church (i.e., churches filled with able resources) seems to capture the idea.

WIVK has a 22.3 percent market share in what is called the Knoxville DMA. Blount County has more WIVK listeners per capita than any other county in the Knoxville DMA. Are the fields ripe for a harvest? There's really only one way to find out.

What happened with the ad?

Well, I was contacted by a number of vocalists who were interested, but it was not until meeting with some instrumentalists this evening that I sensed we may be near to building "Meadowland." However, only God knows where we are heading.

Please be in prayer that God would continue to lead us toward His will, whatever that will may be.

It may be "a little country church in the city."

Grace and peace.