Becky and Joshua Speight were walking the walk last year when they preached on the need to “Keep Church Weird.”
“Our congregation had never seen a dual sermon before, and we had never written one together,” Becky Speight recalled about the joint message they delivered in May at Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., where she is an associate pastor.
“It was weird in itself,” said Joshua Speight, the associate coordinator for missions at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Kentucky. “It was just a weird moment.”
The couple’s seeming preoccupation with “weird” moments and sermons stemmed from their interest in missional and incarnational ministry – and also from an ongoing marketing campaign by the Louisville Independent Business Alliance.
That organization’s “Keep Louisville Weird” effort – inspired by the similar-but-older slogan in Austin, Texas – is meant to showcase the variety and uniqueness of locally owned businesses, an alliance official said.
The Speights said their sermon was a challenge to rethink how church can look and feel. Joshua Speight said last week the concept may have potential in missional leadership training.
“What if we thought of the church as a weird place because everybody accepted each other for who they are – and not because everybody has the same political persuasions or agreed on issues like homosexuality?” he said. “What if church wasn’t a place where the typical divisions keep us apart?”
The Speights used the account in Acts when Philip was directed to approach the Ethiopian eunuch, who then accepted Christ. Seen from the perspective of ethnic divisions and social conventions of the day, the encounter may have been considered strange by both men and those who witnessed it, Becky Speight said.
She noted that Crescent Hill Baptist in Louisville is another living example of this principle through its acceptance of refugees from Burma.
“Now they have five to six different nationalities regularly showing up and have become an international church right here in Louisville, which is weird – and also beautiful,” she said.
Broadway Baptist Pastor Chris Caldwell said the Speights’ sermon was a creative way to remind Christians that Jesus was all about doing the unexpected.
“Jesus certainly kept people off balance with the things he said and they were just encouraging us to do the same thing,” Caldwell said.
Churches can measure their weirdness by noting the discomfort level in the congregation caused by the presence of different people, Joshua Speight said.
Philip may well have felt uncomfortable approaching the Ethiopian eunuch, he said.
“It’s good to be uncomfortable,” he said. “The gospel is uncomfortable.”