[EDITOR'S NOTE: Since launch the service on Sept. 13, 2009, we have made a few tweaks, both to the service order and the preaching element. I have adjusted this blog to now reflect those changes as of Nov. 15, 2009]
The word's out: New Life is launching a Sunday Night Service. I know many of my blog readers don't live in Colorado Springs, but I thought the best way for me to share my heart for this service would be to blog about it.
The pastor's challenge is to let his heart and mind be full of the way things should be while his hands and feet are firmly in the reality of how things are. We are always fixing our eyes on Christ and trying to follow Him and His ways, all while working with the particulars of the soil of our field. This means that not everything will line up with a list of ideals. It also means that we will get dirt under our fingernails. Yet we labor to be on this earth as Christ was, to be carriers of the Divine, acting out His Kingdom and the values of that Kingdom here and now, on earth as it is in heaven. We deal in the subversive, beginning with where culture is but undermining it with a Love that is not of this world. So, here are some of the values that will shape the service and the culture of the Sunday Night Campus.
One of the main reasons Pastor Brady and the team decided to launch this service is to create a smaller environment for worship and community. We're looking for ways to make a big church not just "feel" smaller, but to actually be smaller. My hope is to be more than a service host. I want be a pastor. I want to build relationships with people who make this service their home and help them grow in the Lord. I want us to learn to be attentive to what God is doing in each other's lives so that as we gather each week we "recognize each other as companions along the way of the cross".
What I'm most excited about is gathering at the Lord's Table every week. As we prepare to celebrate the Eucharist about 20 minutes into the service, we'll participate in a liturgical confession from the Book of Common Prayer. We'll be saying words that have been said by the Church for hundreds of years, and in some cases, longer. Then, after our corporate confession, we'll go to tables on the sides and gather the elements as the worship team continues to sing. From there, you can either go to our prayer team, stationed along the edges, to receive prayer and ministry as you receive the elements, or gather in clusters with friends and family to receive the elements together. Of course, if the Lord is doing something deeply personal in your heart, you can gather the elements, find a corner and receive them on your own. To conclude our time of prayer and ministry at the Lord's Table, we'll stand to pray together the Lord's Prayer.
For those who have never experienced the power of liturgy, this will be wonderful introduction to an ancient practice. For those who are from a liturgical background, this will all seem familiar but out of order (it is!). I pray these familiar actions and words become meaningful in a fresh way.
In Working the Angles, Eugene Peterson describes the Greek word hodegete in context of the more familiar word exegete. Both have as part of their word the idea of "leading". But while exegesis focuses on "leading the meaning out of the text", hodegesis is the process of "leading people into the text." An exegete is an explainer; a hodegete is a guide. Both, of course, are necessary. Hodegesis is seen in the way Philip gets in the chariot with the eunuch and helps him understand the Isaiah scroll he's reading, and how it speaks of Christ.
So, in a similar way, each talk will involve an exploration of the text so that we, with the Holy Spirit, can learn how to enter the Scriptures and to let the Scriptures enter us. The talks will follow the same sermon series as the Sunday morning services. Each one will use the same text and convey the same key points, but will have a slightly different expression and feel. I will preach about 36 times a year and have others from our teaching team do the rest.
This is a fancy way of saying that we believe that God is present in ordinary people in the midst of ordinary situations. While we should-- and we will-- set apart special times and moments to encounter God, we believe He is with us all through the week. Our gatherings are a way of creating space, making room, for God. The songs, sermon, conversation and liturgy are all ways that we call attention to Him in our midst as a congregation. But the hope is that this habit of paying attention to God in the service will train us to be attentive to Him in the more ordinary moments and conversations.
This is also a nice way for saying we like laughing, eating, and enjoying one another. (And we hope the lobby reflects it!) There's something spiritual about it, though not in the conventional sense. OK, now for the nitty-gritty!
Location: The TENT, New Life Church
Launch Date: September 13, 2009
Matthew Fallentine will be leading worship, and I will serve as the pastor of the service. The flow is roughly as follows:
Receiving of the Eucharist with Prayer/Ministry
JoyTime (Offering and OT/NT Readings)
How to Get Involved:
There are loads of ways to serve and get involved. The Leadership Team will involve men and women who who lead small groups, pray for people as we gather at the Lord's Table, greet people at the door, take up the offering, set-up the lobby, prepare coffee and coordinate snacks, prepare the communion elements, and other little things. I am in the process of forming a core team who will help lead these areas.
But to start with, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow the service on Twitter: @NLCSundayNight. (If you're not on Twitter, it's an amazing way to communicate to a targeted group of people in a concise way, with highly intelligent "tagging" and "searching" features.) For us, it will be a great way to get updates and details on the service and the Leadership Team.