Those who want locally sourced coffee served with their worship have found a church to their liking in Austin, Texas. Mark Oppenheimer does an excellent profile in the NYT of Vox Veniae, a “post-racial, post-political” evangelical church. Vox Veniae is experimenting with new ways of reaching a generation that still feels spiritual hunger but thinks the blue model churches of the last decades don’t speak to it:
The church meets in what used to be Chester’s, an after-hours B.Y.O.B. club that shut down in 2007 after a fatal shooting close by. Members of Vox, as the church is known, cleaned up the building, christened it Space 12 and made it a hub for Austin-style activity. It’s their church hall, yes, but also a Wi-Fi-equipped space that freelancers can use for a small daily donation; a yoga studio; an art gallery; and the home of the Inside Books Project, which sends books to prison inmates.
Vox Veniae started as an Asian church, but has sense grown its congregation, taking in members of all races and affiliating with the Evangelical Covenant, a denomination with Swedish roots. What is happening in Austin is one of the oldest stories in American religion: new communities and new generations develop worship styles and forms of organization that embrace their cultural preferences and speak to their hopes and needs.Because religion in America gets no support from the government, religious denominations and communities that fail to speak to their contemporaries gradually wither and die, while those who succeed flourish and become influential. It might make some fundamentalists uncomfortable, but there’s always been an evolutionary process at work in American religious history. If this story is any indication, that process is alive and well today.[Image of Vox Veniae Service from Dallas Peters’ Flickr]