Taken from Escanaba Daily Press 3/2/01
'sneak preview sunday for unique church'
There's going to be a sneak preview once again at the Michigan Theater in Escanaba on Sunday morning. But don't gather up money for popcorn and come prepared to view a movie.
The sneak preview will be the official "unveiling" service of Silver Winds Church. Leading the non-denominational congregation is pastor Art Radlicki who extends an open invitation to join in the fundamental, yet contemporary worship service which will begin at 10:30.
Although Silver Winds Church is Baptist in doctrine, Radlicki said he is reluctant to stress the connection, particularly since there are already a number of Baptist churches already operating in the Delta County area.
"It is a Baptist church, but our desire is to de-emphasize the denominational aspect. It's really not that important. Our intention is to have an interdenominational focus and to reach out to families and individuals who do not already have a place to worship," he explained, adding that his intention is not to draw worshippers away from other churches. "It's not our intent to 'shuffle the sheep' or 'change the addresses of the saints' as they say, but to reach out to different types of persons in the community people who are not already attending or do not feel comfortable in other churches in the area."
In the process, Radlicki is offering an upbeat and contemporary worship service enhanced with lively upbeat music (complete with 6-7 member band) and drama. "I'm hoping to remove as many barriers as possible that keep people from wanting to come to church," he said. "People can come to this church and have a life-changing experience."
Radlicki said many people shy away from church for three reasons. "There are those who say 'all the church wants is is our money' and others who complain 'the pastor always talks over my head,'" he explained. "Others feel the church is irrelevant and has nothing to do with their lives today. When working with people, some pastors will start out with biblical passages. I start out with life issues and show the person what the Bible has to say about it."
Music, according to Radlicki, will be an important part of his ministry, however, you won't find a hymnbook in the seats of Silver Winds Church. "We have the words of our songs printed out on an overhead," he explained. "There are people who wouldn't sit through organ music or read words out of hymnbook. The music is upbeat with a message."
While the average person may consider Silver Winds Church just another church to add to a long list of churches, Radlicki has taken a new and innovative approach to introduce his ministry to the area. Since last summer, racks of children's clothing have been on display on the sidewalk in front of the former theater as an attraction to "Born Again Clothing for Kids," a store that features high quality used clothing for infants and children.
"We refer to it as 'BACK' because it's a store that gives back to the community," Radlicki explained. "The purpose of the store is to bring people into the church," he explained. "That's been wildly successful. Businesses in the area have been so supportive and when people stop by, they usually ask 'What's going on?' Then we have the opportunity to tell them about ourselves. It's already given us the opportunity to build relationships and share the vision of what this church could become."
Radlicki is a native of Manistee in lower Michigan. After graduating from Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., in 1992, he preached in the St. Paul and Minneapolis area for 12 years before arriving in Escanaba in January of last year with his wife, Lisa, and their two children. He leased the Michigan Theater two months later with an option to purchase the building at a later date.
Although Radlicki is supported by the Baptist General Conference, he describes his venture as more than a new church "planting" but as an evangelical transdenominational organization. According to Radlicki, Silver Winds Church, with its store-front ministry, is the first of its type started by the Baptist General Convention.
"This is a pioneer venture," said the pastor. "It's a partnership. We are helped with the cost of the building and as the church grows, those costs will be used to help other programs. Every bit of revenue helps keep this business functioning. It's a great ministry outlet because all our clothing is donated and all our workers are volunteers. Our only cost factor was in getting racks and securing this building."
Radlicki concluded, "If every church building now located in the area was filled to capacity twice there would still not be able to meet the needs of the people who don't now attend church. There's plenty of room for all of us."