The Church That Serves ... Just Because
The Church: Celebration Church, Lawton, Okla.
The Challenge: Be intentional about service to others. Don’t necessarily invite them to church, just bless them.
One Key Idea: Ask unchurched people what they are looking for. Say, “What would attract you to church? What would make you want to come and stay?” And then make them part of your planning team.
Outreach spoke with Pastor Steve Goudeaux, who says Celebration Church just wants to bless the community.
On connecting with the community
Goudeaux says in the last year and a half, Celebration Church has given away thousands of dollars in grocery and gasoline gift cards, plus $7,500 in school supplies to local children. They’ve fed gumbo to firefighters, breakfast to university students facing finals and a home-style supper to a hospital crew working the graveyard shift.
Yet none of those recipients has become a member or even attended services at the Lawton, Okla., church plant. And that’s just fine with Goudeaux.
“We’re not trying to go out and get these people [to come to church]; we’re trying to do what Jesus said—to clothe, to feed,” he says. “Others that see you doing that are the ones who do come. So what you get is a lot of people who come that have that heart to be accepting, to be nonjudgmental, because that’s what they see you have set as the DNA of the church.”
On Celebration’s beginning
Goudeaux started the church with his wife, Brandye, and their two young children. A registered nurse, he was helping churches in his home state of Louisiana heal from Hurricane Katrina when he and Brandye accepted a call from the Heartland Conference of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in 2009 to take on the Lawton assignment. The denomination had tried for 40 years to plant a church there with little success because Fort Sill’s transient military community makes up a large part of the 50,000-resident town.
“We told them we wanted to take an entirely different approach,” Goudeaux says.
The Goudeauxs applied the Jesus Method, a process they had learned from the Association of Related Churches that allows a church to build naturally through one-on-one interactions with mostly non-Christians.
“When Jesus came into the world, He found the untrained, unlikely people, and those are the ones He pulled to Him. We figured if it worked for Jesus, it will work for us,” Goudeaux says.
And it did. A furniture salesman became the first “member,” followed by a club deejay, a Muslim family and a few soldiers from the base. As the Goudeauxs planned for a February 2010 church launch, their living room became a colorful meeting place filled with people of various races, lifestyles and belief systems who wanted to be part of something new and different.