The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

worship with the unchurched in mind

We devoted part of our service to “All Saints Day” on Sunday. We had a candle lighting in memory of all those that were part of our church community that passed away in the last year. What we did differently this year is that we used the screen to project pictures of the ones that pasted away and had family members light a candle as we showed the picture. This worked beautifully and was very meaningful not only to the families but also to the whole church.
Of the 5 people that passed away none of their families have been active in our church in quite a while and this service was an opportunity to show the families that we care and that we wanted to honor their relative and also give an opportunity for them to come back to church.
It would be safe to say that for 2 of the families they had little to no experience in worship. The sat up front, I don’t think they knew how the hymnal worked, and during communion seemed uncertain. And they really did not have anybody to help them (partly because they sat up front). One of the men gave me the attendance pad to me before the service because he thought somebody from the previous service had forgotten it, (I played along). Another gentlemen when he came up for communion starting talking with me, so we had a conversation while everyone else was kneeling around him, which is something I have never done before. For the other 3 families everything was comfortable and familiar. We say we want to reach people who don’t know the good news of Jesus, but would we be willing to change what we do to make that happen. This was a real eye opening experience for me because some of the changes I’ve made to the traditional services have been made I thought with the unchurched in mind. I guess they were not enough so. And is the contemporary service any different?


revjfletcher said...

What kind of changes have you made in particular?

Part of our responsibility during community worship is to have a heart for the unchurched. That's what focusing on the truth of God's love directs us to.

Using family pictures is a great idea for All Saints Day--especially using the screen. I'm sure that was a special time during your worship. Stay blessed...john

gavin richardson said...

we do the picture things for all saints day as well. some things probably could be eased in as far as the liturgical and ritual form, but it is a slope that one needs to approach carefully as not to dismiss the very thing that sets us apart.

Gordon Pruitt said...

John- we have tried to keep it liturgical but simple. I try to spend time explaining what we do and our church is small enough where i can tell if we have guests. More explaining less assuming.

Gavin- you are right, we don't want to loose what sets us apart. Len Sweet talks about how at Starbucks that have a card that says "Learn the Language",(or Lingo) where they go into detail about all the language that is specific to Starbucks. Instead of getting rid of the language they try to educate. Maybe we need to create a card. When i Starbucks i still ask for a small, medium, or large.