Gathering for worship

Monday, 15 December, 2014

Worship is not usually the starting point for a fresh expression of church, but as they grow, the process of discerning what worship looks like in each context can look very different.

Here, a range of fresh expressions of church describe how they gather for worship - including Moot, XY Church, Sanctuary, re:generation, The Wesley Playhouse, Legacy XS, The Marlpit, Tubestation, The Lounge@Costa and Church for the Night.

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Ben Norton (XY Church):  I really felt that God was calling me to work with men, or lads - kind of 18-40. We actually discuss what's been going on in the news and actually what issues that raises for us as men, so this week we're looking at suffering, because of natural disasters and things that have been in the news. So we just sit and have a discuss and there's some scripture there that we look at as well.

The camping stuff actually came from a guy who is quite spiritual, maybe wouldn't call himself a Christian, and he said 'I'd really like to go out into the wilderness and, you know, maybe chat about spiritual stuff and just be out in nature and the open air and things.' So it's a normal camping trip, we've got fire and meat and man things, but then we've also got a kind of sacred space, an area that is different, that is away from the campsite, but is a holy area if you like really.

Pall Singh (Sanctuary): We wanted to create something which was not threatening, which wasn't seen as just the white man's faith, his religion, and to be able to say that it's ok, it's fine to be a follower and a disciple of Christ, without losing your cultural identity.

Caroline Holt (The Wesley Playhouse): On Good Friday we had over 100 people here celebrating Good Friday and all that it means to be a Christian – 100 people coming to find out about the story of Easter. Eight different families have asked to have their children baptised in The Playhouse because that's where they've come with their children and they recognise this as a church – they recognise this is church for them.

On the second Sunday of the month we have a family worship where families are encouraged to come together to do something similar to Messy Church – where they come and they do crafts and they sing together and we're actually seeing now between 40 and 100 people come once a month to that event and finding it a real blessing to them.

Male voice 1 (Legacy XS): Hi, my name's Sam, why don't you come and see my church.

Pete Hillman (Legacy XS): The analogy I would use, when we're encouraging young people to use skateboards or BMXs or inline skates to worship, would be for example liturgical dance. What we're talking about is someone using their sport, using something they enjoy, using their bodies, something they're very comfortable with using, and then focusing that towards God - either in the form of prayer, or as an act of worship and saying instead of landing this trick for the pleasure of doing it for me, I'm going to land it for the pleasure of you.

Kate Miller (The Marlpit): St Michael's in the Marlpit meets in Valley Primary School which is the primary school on the Marlpit estate. We meet every Sunday morning, 10 o'clock, usually for about an hour and 'all welcome' is what it says on the sign and all do turn up!

Teaching is probably what is uniquely different in that we will break into small groups and do stuff; we may play games, we may paint something together, we may collect things, we may have a quiz. We quite often share in small groups, maybe about someone who was a good father to you and then whoever's leading will gather that back together and bring it into the lesson. It always starts with people, it always starts with people's experience – whether their experience of what we are doing on the day or their stories, their story of their life, of their faith and we tie their story into the wider gospel story. So it's not someone from the front telling people what to think and believe, it's drawing out people's experiences and then relating those to the gospel.

Kris Lannen (Tubestation): We had an opportunity recently to lead a Pro-surfer's funeral and led about 100 surfers in a paddle-out where you all paddle out back – out the back of the waves – and form a circle together, and then threw flowers into the centre of the circle and just cried out this professional surfer's name, and it was a very very powerful experience. And then myself and Henry then paddled away from the circle with this guy's ashes and we poured the ashes into the water.

Ben Gardner (The Lounge@Costa): It's got to start where people are, we can't force it on them, we can't bring our acoustic guitars, we can't bring the hymns, we can't bring the Matt Redman songs – as much as we love those things – we've got to start where people are and then we walk with them on that journey.

Michael French (Church for the Night): One of the sessions we did, we did on the friendship of God and we did an art installation which had kind of a built in room with a front door and a doorbell that people could go inside and see lots of things around that you'd see in your house. And in there ask questions about, 'what would you say to God if he lived next door to you?' So the closeness of God. The next one we did was God of the universe, how massive God is, so we got in a 7 metre science dome which had a 360 cinema in it that kind of showed the stars and we had a science guy come in and talk to people about the universe and we had installations about water and the elements and stuff like that to get people to think about the hugeness of God and we had projections at the front that said, 'let there be light' and we had anywhere up to five, six hundred people come through the church during that evening between… we actually open between eight and three in the morning.

We had one guy that came in recently who had a gimp mask on his head, zipped up at the front, and he walked in on his own to the front, got a kneeler cushion, put it down on the floor in front of the altar, knelt down and prayed for like three minutes or something. The he zipped the mask off, took it off, put it next to him and continued to pray for another few minutes and then basically just got up and walked out of the church. Amazing visual display to see and I don't know what he did, what he prayed but he came in and he chose to kneel before the altar of God and take his mask off before God and then walk out again. That's what we're here for.


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