Experience Scottsdale works very hard to bring tourists to town.
They were successful with me, and my family when we became residents. And like Experience Scottsdale, we are trying to bring more people to the city, especially its downtown. But we are doing so for a different reason, in an unexpected place. To celebrate God. In the Entertainment District.
We are doing so because the time when belief in Jesus is a civic assumption is fast fading. As Sunday attendance at mainline churches continues to skydive, the United States of America has become notably less Christian. However, the rise of the original message of Jesus is happening.
With this backdrop, some pastors are setting up shop in some unusual places to attract people who are more inclined to attend services without the traditional ideas of the church.
That’s one of the reasons our church, Church Alive, decided to set up shop smack dab in the downtown Scottsdale Entertainment District in the Livewire nightclub, off Scottsdale and Camelback roads. It’s next door to one of the busiest bars in Arizona (Bottled Blonde) and surrounded by bars and clubs. My wife Becky and I held our first service there in February and welcomed any and all this past Easter weekend.
People have been asking us why we would start a church right here in the middle of the busiest party district in Scottsdale. My response is this is exactly where we want a church like ours. It fits perfectly with our message: come as you are.
We wanted to welcome those who typically don’t attend church into a more familiar territory, a place that didn’t feel like they were “going to church.”
Church Alive is not designed to appeal to people who already have a church. We just want to appeal to those who want a real experience of Jesus in their lives.
We tell our team and anyone who will listen to the following: we are Christians. But you need not be Christian to attend our experiences. We believe, but you do not have to believe in order to call our church home. We welcome believers, atheists and everyone in between. With our church, there is community but without the typical rules. You don’t need to “clean up” before walking through our entryway. Whatever you are doing in your life, wherever you’re at with your beliefs, you are welcome.
And why, readers may ask, is this our approach?
The message of Jesus Christ is simple: God loves us. Nothing gets in the way of that. Not your background. Not the way you look. Not your church attendance record. And certainly not your mistakes. In fact, Jesus was accused by religious leaders of spending too much time with “those people.”
We are not in the business of behavior modification. Come as you are, we say. This nightclub in Scottsdale, our church, is one place in your life where you will be accepted. You don’t have to believe to belong.
We understand some on the Scottsdale City Council aren’t enamored of the songs in the Entertainment District. Hopefully, this will get them to re-evaluate because if we can see good here, hopefully they can too.
Editor’s note: Mr. Konemann is co-pastor, Church Alive, churchaliveaz.com