What better place for a church than in a strip district? I have long thought that we have not reached out to those that would most be receptive of the Gospel. I’ve postulated before that we spend a lot of time trying to reach those that believe that they have no need of God and therefore have to be taken to a place where they find that need. And yet this is not something I would have tried:
Between Saturday night and Sunday evening, the former St. Elizabeth Church in the Strip District transforms like a theater set between acts — from The Altar Bar nightclub to the Steel City Church. It’s the mission of a 31-year-old pastor who offers a new take on what the Christian life, and nightlife, can be.
The Steel City Church held its first service Sunday for about 250 people. Earlier in the day, the pastor, Damian Williams, and his wife, Anne Williams, carried sofas and chairs from the wings and configured them around an empty dance floor for the 6 p.m. service. It was a cross between coffee house and talk show, with a rolling video presentation and food.
Of five churches he has planted nationwide, this is the first urban, multicultural setting and the least recognizable as a house of worship, its stained-glass windows dwarfed by a giant sound system. The church rents the space on Sunday and will open early for congregants to watch Steelers games.
“We want to create a new form to break down barriers that have kept people from connecting with God,” he said. “We chose the Strip because every kind of person goes there and relates to it.”
Paul commands us to be in the world, but not of it. Though he told us it was ok to eat meat offered to idols, I don’t find it anywhere in the passages on Christian liberty where we are to actually turn temples to idol worship into a church for one day a week. Granted, had this been a church building with a testimony, that might be a different issue for me, because I could see a mission (albeit a tricky one due to the kind of sin that is present there!) to reach those people in that location, but not in camouflage.