Jesus Encounters Big Church
Last night I was saving my files for tonight and I wanted to distinguish them from the originals so I wrote "Jesus Encounters" and then after a moment wrote "Big Church" which is what all of the youth still call what happens in the sanctuary (and yes I know that is a problem). It wasn’t until later when I went back to open the file that I read it as a sentence and not just a file name. It was cool. I kept thinking, "that is what I want" I want Jesus to encounter us. I want us to encounter Jesus.
Anyway, all of that aside things went well today. I love to preach. It makes me feel alive. I don’t have the discipline or the energy to do it on a regular basis and I don’t have the patience to be a pastor, but I love to preach. This morning I did 2 activities. I had the church break into groups of 4 or 5 and come up was a list of questions they would like to ask Abraham, Isaac, and Sarah. It was actually a pretty good little activity with positive participation. I also showed the Jehovah Jireh video (with all spelling mistakes corrected) and had a response activity for an invitation. But other than that it was still just me speaking. That is about as traditional as I get.
Tonight we had a "station" worship gathering. I also played three videos. That’s My King and Are You Amazed by Igniter and one I had made a long time ago about the different views people have of Jesus. If you check out the Encounters with Jesus worship gathering in the outlines section you can see a very rough idea of what we did. I don’t really know what anyone would want to know some of this stuff, but here is what the evening looked like.
We sang a few songs and watched the first video. Then I introduced the evening, we sang a couple of more songs, and watched the Faces of Jesus video. Then we moved into the station worship time.
Here is what I have found works well in a large group station type worship like this one. We set up 5 stations simply because we have no more room for more. If we had room enough I would love to double all of them. There can only be around 5 people or so at each station and that is pushing it. To keep there from being a big rush of people moving to the stations at the same time I give an "in your seat" activity. This activity is normally some sort of journaling activity that involves looking up and reading some scripture. I accomplishes 2 purposes. Since everyone will work through it at their own pace it creates a natural stagger for the people heading to the stations. Secondly it gives those people who either can’t or don’t feel like moving to be a part of the worship experience.
When it comes time for people to actually move around to the stations we play some music, turn the lights down low and just let them worship how they will. It is normally a very quite time when people individually choose what station they are going to spend time with and how long they are going to spend at each one. The stations are all self-explanatory. At each one worshipers will find instructions as well as the elements to complete the worship activity.
To answer Jeff’s question when we are in "big church" we do stations that are the same for students and adults. The wording is normally adult oriented rather than student oriented. I try to be sure to have activities that children will also enjoy, even if they don’t understand all of the meaning. Tonight we had Play-Doh, colors, and chocolate kisses so there were lots of things for children, but I think we only had one kid.
The whole evening is very free-form. It isn’t something that I would advocate doing all of the time, but it is a nice solemn, private, yet corporate type of experience. Sometimes after we have finished with the station time I will ask for people to share about their worship experience to make a more corporate event again.
I closed everything tonight with the Are You Amazed video and then a short prayer.
All in all I think it was a positive evening. I had some great people help me set up and tear down so that was one headache avoided. I enjoy sitting and watching people engage God in new ways. The place has such a cool vibe as people move silently around the room or kneel down to pray or sit on the floor with tears in their eyes. So much of our time in the church "sanctuary" is spent looking up at the people on stage. These station times turn that model on its ear and let everyone be involved.
All in all I want to say that I thank God for such a cool day.