Following from a realisation that our gospel community’s rhythm was too confusing last year, we have decided to simplify a little, moving to a weekly rhythm (Mondays) and a monthly rhythm (second Sunday). Currently this looks like:
- Monday – Discipleship night (“huddle”)
- Monday – Community night (“meal”)
- Monday – Discipleship night (“huddle”)
- Sunday – Engage day (mission and service)
- Monday – (possible night off following Engage day – not quite decided on this)
We had our first Engage day of the new year last Sunday. Our objectives were to:
- Learn to develop an authentic act of worship, family-friendly, that we can invite friends to in the future without feeling embarrassed
- Pray together for mission opportunities in our daily routines
We started at 11.30-12 with a “bring and share” brunch…with a “bring and share” act of worship. This consisted of five slots (ostensibly 5 minutes each, though a few overran) taking us through from exaltation to commission. A different person led each slot, which gave the whole thing a nice decentralised and participative feel.
The three 4/5-year olds present participated really well. The whole dynamic of parents and kids worshipping together and parents discipling their kids in a group context felt VERY natural and essential… made me wonder why this is not seen as more normative for Christian households. My daughter could recall the entire Bible passage that evening (normally after Sunday school I have difficulty getting her to recall much at all).
We finished at about 2pm and a few of us went for a prayer walk around the area, finishing by 3pm.
Three questions on my mind coming out of the experience:
Is Sunday morning the right time for us to meet for service and mission?
- Good for the kids, some of whom need siestas in the afternoon
- Good for some of us, as we get to ‘recycle time’ already set aside for church
- Some of the team obviously feel a bit torn between their church service/commitments and the gospel community activity. We had to start later than we’d hoped as a result and also some people weren’t able to get there until mid way through. This might just be transitional, but it is worth thinking through.
- More importantly, are we ready to choose a day and time convenient for the larger community for whom we want to be good news? Are we ready to make it about them rather than about us? Is the time and day good for them?
What do we do about space?
- Space is a bit of an issue, especially with 3 young kids and 3 even younger ones! How many more people could we welcome in our living room before it becomes too much? Probably very few…. need to think how to address this as the ‘homely’ feel was a positive aspect.
Is an ‘act of family worship/discipleship’ sufficiently outward-focused for what is supposed to be a day of service and mission?
- My worry is that is still a bit too “up/in” focused and not “outward” enough… though perhaps that is ok if we develop a strong outward component outside of the scheduled “trellis”
- It is pretty strongly Christian in content, so possibly a fairly high hurdle to jump from “friend” to “participant in family worship time”? But would diluting it spoil the point?
- Well, it is (or could-be) kind-of good news to people not interested in church but interested in providing spiritual input to their kids
- One of our people-of-peace seems keen to come; her husband might be a lot more receptive to come to our place than to come to a church environment
- Weekday evenings don’t really work for kids our age, so if we want to invest in them spiritually as a community life it has to be via this kind of thing (though more hands-on mission and service would also be great to do with them)
- It seems do-able from a practical perspective. My tendency is always to push and do more and more, but perhaps this is a good starting place in terms of scheduled activity.
- What else COULD we do? Hang out at the park with our kids – but is that enough? Do some regular act of service… but what exactly? Always find it hard to come with fresh ideas each month.
So definitely a learning experience and plenty to think about. I’d love your thoughts and ideas, dear reader!