On February 24, after months of planning, we had our first preview gathering for our new worshiping community at my church ... Family Style.
We've gone the preview route with purpose, on purpose. Rather than immediately going after weekly worship, we're trying things out first. Working out the kinks. Plugging people in. Avoiding offering something perfect, with the faith that if we are faithful, God will provide who and what we need to grow this thing into a contextualized community for the neighborhood.
Still, I was nervous. A couple of days before a few members of the lead team helped me arrange our tables, lifting and scooting, counting out the chairs, covering them in butcher paper, laying out the art supplies.
My faithful team helping to bring a vision into reality, preparing to create a new family in a church that has been in existence in our city for over 130 years.
Still, with all of our preparation, we very consciously chose not to offer a finished product. Because if folks walked into something too shiny, to scripted, too perfect ... Where would they plug in? Where would a new person find their place if everything is already set?
Each person that walked in to our first gathering two weeks ago is a missing piece in God's plan for the community that we're forming. Everyone that chooses to stick with us has a part to play in Family Style, where not just food, but also gifts will be shared. Spiritual gifts, given to each person by the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of growing God's Kingdom.
Welcoming people into a space that isn't fully formed yet, is our way of offering an invitation to join in and to help us, with God, create something more awesome and wonderful than we could of without each person stepping in and stepping up.
And, we certainly learned a lot that first night.
Those meticulously arranged tables and chairs? They need to be spread out further.
Speaking roles need to be given away, not just taken up by the pastor... Yeah, I need to give that mic away, and I REALLY look forward to doing so.
We need to figure out how to be more inclusive of children in our worship. We also need to figure out how to be more inclusive of people that aren't in a 'traditional' family style.
We also made too much chili ... So much chili. But, hey, our Wednesday Night Dinner Crew had plenty of leftovers to feed the church ... Again.
There's plenty more that could be said. But, right now, I'm thankful that things have gotten started. People ARE plugging in. People ARE stepping up and offering their gifts to this new thing. This established and tested church is trying something new to reach new people in the name of Jesus, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it.
If we can be faithful, God will show up and show off. And. God. Is. So, for now, we're easing into the new thing, but it seems like God is getting ready to press that gas pedal.
That's something we're REALLY getting ready for.