A Southern Baptist denominational church in southeast San Diego, Calif. attracts young adults through urban worship experiences during their services, which has led to its development as a multicultural congregation with the majority of members under the age of 30.
Victor Schloss, known as Pastor Vic, planted The Body Church in 2011 with the purpose to serve the needs of its surrounding diverse community by engaging in relevant outreach efforts. In a city known to be one of the nation's most affluent, Schloss and his leadership team are taking on the task to reach non-believers who make up a part of San Diego's culturally diverse population.
"San Diego, as most large cities is becoming increasingly urban, through elements such as gentrification but it's also evident in the growth of urban radio stations here. The hip hop and urban culture influences and transcends almost every race and ethnicity within our city. Therefore, it is imperative that we incorporate redeemed elements of the hip hop and urban culture into our church so that we can contextualize the gospel and communicate its relevance to the lives of its hearers," said Schloss, to The Christian Post.
So far, his church's way of reaching young adults has worked despite an unwelcomed reception from a few.
"As some people have with the gospel, some reject it but others are transformed into the newness of life! People often tell us that they finally understand Biblical truths that are being communicated into their heart language as we prayerfully use arts and imagery that display the Biblical truths we seek to communicate," said Schloss.
Those artistic elements are what Schloss initially imagined for The Body Church when his family and a few friends would meet at his home for prayer and Bible study months prior to his church's inception.
"We envisioned reaching people through authentic mission engagements, high quality evangelistic urban concerts, spreading the gospel at secular urban concerts, and incarnational ministry," said Schloss.
Now, his vision continues to become an ongoing reality and his growing, diverse and relatively young congregation is the evidence. Schloss tells CP the growth his church has experienced would not be possible without his members' ties with San Diego's diversified communities, which represents the literal meaning of their mission statement, "to make committed followers of Jesus Christ who will in turn do the same through authentic relationships."
"Our leadership intentionally lives by that mission by creating authentic discipleship relationships with other San Diegans," said Schloss. "Multicultural congregations are always a reflection of the leadership's personal multicultural relationships. Our leaders are comprised of interracial marriages and men and women who see the beauty in cultural and ethnic diversity and thereby glorify God for it."
Schloss admits reaching young and unchurched individuals is not an easy feat and he advises that change should begin within the church in order to make believers out of those who believe that church is irrelevant to their lives.
"Authenticity is the apologetic of our day. Due to the letdown of moderns and post-moderns, millennials do not believe something to be true just because Christians say it is, they believe it when we authentically live as if the Gospel is true," said Schloss. "Church leaders can improve their outreach effort to millennials by a show-and-tell approach in sharing the gospel. We need to explain the gospel to them in their heart language and show them through our authentic love for them, which translates into 'good works.'"
He also says in an unchurched urban settings much like San Diego, it is imperative for church leaders to be "incarnation and missional at heart."
"Church plants do not succeed out here at least when planted with a 'build it and they'll come' model. It's critical in our missions efforts to be among the people, believers and non-believers so we can show them the gospel and earn opportunities to share it," said Schloss.