“Don’t fight the churchified context, leverage it for mission.” This was a big takeaway from the recent urban ministry roundtable in Philly. That statement solidified what God has been teaching us in our 15 months in central Detroit. Sunday is “religious space” that should be leveraged for mission…if you have gathered enough people who understand that church is not an event and who can help plug new people into everyday gospel life.
Through much counsel we believe it’s time to start holding weekly worship services for 4 reasons.
1. In 2 weeks we will launch our second Missional Community (now called Discipleship Group). Each Discipleship Group will also have a couple being trained to lead the next round of multiplication, as together we seek to disciple ourselves and our neighbors to and in Jesus.
2. THE Story Bible Study on Sundays has been well attended and several people are inquiring about what we are doing next. We appreciate this interest in continuing to gather on Sundays! In fact, the whole thing has been picking up steam in ways we did not anticipate.
3. The Restore gatherings increasingly represent our neighborhood ethnically. To put it plainly, we are not just a bunch of anglos anymore. While there is much, much room for growth here, especially as we consider both shared and long-range leadership, we are thankful that African-Americans are connecting with Restore. And this is not some numbers thing. It’s about God’s glory. You’ll see this at the party – Revelation 7:9-10! It’s easy to talk about planting a church in Detroit. It’s quite another thing to plant a church of Detroiters who live in the neighborhoods outside the uptown areas. We wanted to make this a priority while the cement is still wet in these early stages. It’s slow-burn and long-term and God will have to do His thing for this to come to fruition, but we are committed to being a church for all of Detroit.
4. Celebrate good times, come on! Ok, so I can’t quite sing Kool & the Gang, but the song does remind me of our need to gather and celebrate God’s mercy to us in the gospel. Worship services are not all of church life but they are a sweet slice of it!
On Sunday April 8, the week after the last session of THE Story, we will begin a weekly worship service. I know Easter is the day the experts say a church should launch but, trust me, this wasn’t scheduled by any great planning on our part. It’s something the Master planner calendared, not us. (And we sort of already launched, but that’s another discussion;)
We are calling the kickoff of these weekly worship services Easter Sunday a soft launch. We are excited and will be doing some things to spread the word to our community but by soft launch we simply mean we are not going to make a super huge deal of it. Ever been to a service that look likes it was planned for a lot more people than actually attended? Awwwwkward for attenders…and tiresome for leaders. So we’ll plan a service that seems right for about 75 and just see what God does! It will be really novel;) We’ll have prayer, fellowship, singing, preaching from God’s word, communion, and a simple children’s church during the sermon time.
Here’s our burden if you are praying for the launch of these weekly worship services. We do NOT want these services to become our overwhelming focus, sucking away our time and energy, eating away at the bandwidth of our lives, and leaving little space for everyday gospel neighboring. We simply want to come together to worship our God, point others to Him, celebrate how He used us in the previous week, and then be relaunched for the new week. We want to walk away from these services reminded of God’s grace, renewed in our spirit, and recommissioned to show and tell Jesus in all of life!