This Sunday begins our new series, Kingdom Come. Each week we are exploring a theme present in God’s reign in Heaven that we are called to live out here on earth (Beauty, Rest, Peace, Communion, Creativity and Celebration.) During this six-week summer experience, we will participate in some new forms of large group worship beyond our regular liturgy of music, teaching and giving. After an initial gathering time together, we will break into mid-size groups to allow us to explore each week’s theme through art, music, conversations and group activities. We are excited to welcome our children ages six and above into the service for this series as well.
When we come together this Sunday, our time will look like this:
- We will gather as usual at 10 in the in the Sanctuary for worship music and a welcome.
- Half of our community will go to the Café for a creative art activity based on the themes of beauty and brokenness. While we work on our collective project, we will share with each other where we saw beauty and brokenness is our city this week.
- The other half will go to the large Chapel area (down the kids club hallway) where we will watch 8 minutes of a film on artists creating beauty from something mundane. After the film, we will turn to a few around us and reflect on the themes we saw.
- Then the two groups will switch places.
- At 11:10, we will gather back in the Sanctuary to hear a song written by Cortney Matz and Katie Ludden, we will commission Alba Lopez for her summer mission trip to Japan, and we will close with a benediction.
We decided to try something different this series for a variety of reasons. One of our points of emphasis this year is “Take risks rooted in the Holy Spirit’s leading.” As a church, we are not afraid to experiment and try to explore new ways of gathering on Sundays and scattering the rest of the week if we think it will help Ecclesia flourish in an increasingly Post Christian culture. So this series is based on a willingness to try new things and learn from them as we grow.
So why try this form of an experiment? Why take this risk? Let me try to answer that from my perspective.
As American culture embraces smaller, niche tribes and not just the “big box”, “one size fits all” approaches of the 90’s, local churches will need to embrace the fact that mega gatherings are connecting less with people. I believe church structures will increasingly take the form of more intimate settings with more involvement from a variety of ministry gifts. That way, more people will be using their God given gifts on Sundays and throughout the week. There will be a place for large weekly gatherings but we need to consider how to also create other meaningful expressions of church that might resonate better with those who are not used to “Sunday church” as many of us know it.
The church structures that remain from the church growth movement of the 90’s often prioritize the single gifts of one large group Bible teacher. While the gift of teaching is one valid gift in a community, the unintended consequence has been to create a culture of passivity and consumerism on Sunday morning where a community often watches one person minister through one primary gift. Rarely do churches share with each other on a Sunday how the whole community has been in ministry all week long in their scattering to their own communities. The more we elevate the gifts of a professional teacher, the more we invalidate the gifts of other teachers, caregivers, evangelists, or those with the gifts of hospitality, prayer, giving, justice, mercy, etc.
I also believe that each member of our church is a church planter in training, but we will never view ourselves that way if we are comparing ourselves to full time, paid, seminary trained professionals. My role is not to do the ministry for the church but equip the church to do ministry. Part of that is making sure that my own example of ministry is not standing in the way of others doing ministry as God as called them. I am already studying and excited to be teaching again in August, but for this series, I think we will really enjoy learning from others in the community as well.
I hope that by creating some spaces this summer on Sunday morning where people get to create, engage one another, serve one another, pray with one another, and share life over a meal together, we reinforce that church is not a spectator sport. We are an active community who gathers to worship God together through our thinking, feeling, being and doing. And what we are doing outside of Sundays is just as important as what we do on a Sunday together.
Finally, not having a 35 minute message, for a short season like six-weeks, is also is a subtle check with our church to be sure we are learning to feed ourselves from God’s Word and not relying on someone else to do it for us. I hope this series drives people to read the Word for themselves in deeper ways as they seek to hear from God each week. Might I recommend starting with Isaiah chapters 60 through 66, an incredible depiction of the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven.
So thank you for being a part of Ecclesia this summer and for trusting our leadership. I am excited for what you will bring each week to share through your gifts, your insights, your prayers and your passion to see Jesus reign in the world around us.
Lead Pastor, EcclesiaTags: beauty, celebration, come, communion, kingdom, peace, rest