Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Something New on Wednesday Nights

Tonight marks the return of Wednesday evening worship at the U. When I was appointed here, I was told it was being put on hiatus and would restart in the fall with me leading. The service has been in a fairly steady decline. Some people had hoped that I would restart it making it pretty much the same service we had done in the past. While that certainly would have been the path of least resistance, I remembered the cliche (usually attributed to Albert Einstein) that reminds us that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting different results.

So, as I set out to restart a service of worship on Wednesdays, I started from the beginning. I began knowing full well that the day and time itself has its own unique challenges. Wednesday evening has certainly lost its place as a time for worship and Bible study amongst mainline protestants. But, then again, more and more, so has Sunday. Very few Christians would consider worshipping primarily on Wednesday and very few feel the need or desire to worship more than once a week. That is a challenge. However, in a church of close to 6000 members in a rapidly growing area, there may still be enough need and demand to make the service work.

Given the challenges, I worked with our team of coaching pastors to figure out what need worship at that time and place might fill. In trying to understand the worship habits of our members and the clear desire to worship on Sunday, we began to get a feel for the service. We realized that this service would not likely be, for many, an alternative to Sunday morning, but an addition to Sunday morning. That raised the question, who needs an addition to Sunday morning? While we came to realize that people might be drawn to Wednesday worship for a number of reasons, those who may most need it are those for whom Sunday morning is currently their only means of connection to the message of Jesus. An overwhelming number of people, be they new to Christianity, returning or even those who have been connected for a long time have no means of growing in discipleship other than Sunday morning. We asked the question, could Wednesday evening be a means for drawing them deeper into the community and deeper into the gospel? That is where we started.

We have renamed the service ugrow and focused it on people in the message phase of our discipleship model, in other words, people asking the question, "What is the news about Jesus and what do I do about it?" The service will be primarily prayer and teaching. We will begin this week with a look at the Gospel of Mark. I recommended moving the service to the loft, a space that better reflects the size of the service and a room better suited to a teaching based service. For the first five weeks, the service will be followed by a discussion of the "University for Life" church-wide study. After that, we will have informal small group discussion based on the teaching for the night.

Whether or not this sounds like something you need, I hope you come. (If you are a reader who lives in San Antonio.) Your presences will support this worship ministry and, whatever the form, we could all use some more time gathered together to worship our creator.

See you tonight at 6:15.


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