by John Duff

Most of you have heard the news: St. Luke is starting a new worship service in September! The Staff and SLT have looked at the big picture of worship at St. Luke and decided to ask a team of people to plan and develop a vision for a new worship experience at St. Luke.  This team consists of: Jennifer Baker, Amanda Draughn, John Duff, Jonny Gifford, Kathy Swango and Matt Trimble.  All six of these people are passionate and excited about helping St. Luke grow in its ability to help people draw closer to Jesus through worship.  This team has been working since January of 2018 toward the launch of the service in the Fellowship hall on September 16th, 2018.  Yes, that is coming very soon!  

In recent months, we have had build-up services to slowly involve more people and to get a handle on leading services as a team.  We have held five services over the past five months,  with the last one being on August 12.  At our last service we had 65 people pack into the youth room. It was so exciting!  Seeing that many people crammed into the youth room excited to worship the Lord together was a sight to see.  It seems as though the Lord has been working to bring this together for the people of St. Luke for a while.  The planning, prayer and hard work is coming to fruition.

I thought you might have a few questions about the services, so I’ve provided some answers below.

WHY is St. Luke launching a new worship service?

Our MISSION and for the new service is: To engage more people in worship at St. Luke, to help them grow closer to Christ and to help them become mature followers of Jesus Christ.   Basically, we want everything we do to be about helping people grow closer to Jesus.  We believe that Jesus Christ is everything, and we want everyone to grow closer to him.  St. Luke staff and leaders believe that we can do a better job of this through offering a different type of worship service in addition to what we are currently offering.

What will this new worship service look like?  What is the VISION that God is leading us to?

The VISION we have found for this worship gathering is: An inter-generational Jesus-centered community who gathers to encounter God through Spirit-led, participatory and relational worship.   We want to be a community for all ages of people, centered on Jesus Christ.  In everything we do we want the focus to be on Jesus.  When we gather for worship we want to be Spirit-led and allow for freedom and variety in how we express our praise.  We want to be participatory, meaning everyone interacts and shares in order to encourage one another to grow in their faith.  This involves less lecture style preaching and more interactive conversations.  Lastly, we believe full-heartedly that God works through relationships, so we intend to design our worship gatherings to help people connect to one another and grow relationally as a community.  

What will be important to the work that you will not compromise on?  What are the VALUES that will drive us to the vision?

Our values are: 

Care for and investment in young people. We believe that it is the task of the church to continue to pass the faith along from generation to generation.  We want to help the next generations of Christians grow and fall in love with the Lord just like we have.  Thus, we will unapologetically care for and invest in young people.  This absolutely does not mean giving less attention to older generations. Caring for young people ends up being a win-win, because churches who do a good job helping young people grow in their faith end up being healthy churches where older generations are flourishing as well.

Freedom in worship and planning. God’s people have worshiped through the ages in many different ways and forms, and we want to be open to different ways of expressing our praise, as well as not be stuck in ruts when it comes to worship planning. We will be always reflective and in tune with the Holy Spirit when we plan for each worship gathering.  

No rituals without understanding. This simply means explaining what we do and why so that young people and outsiders can understand everything.  We believe that rituals are very good at shaping us and helping us to become who God wants us to be, so we want to explain them to everyone so they can be aware of why we practice them and join in, allowing God to shape us through the process.  

Working in team. We very much desire for the body of Christ to be the body of Christ together, and not rely on solo leaders to guide the church.  Any one person may be great at a lot of things, but they are then, in turn, bad at many things, so we need to rely on and trust one another in order to be the best we can be.  We need everyone to bring their gifts and service if we are to be the church that the Lord wants us to be.  This value is displayed in the way God works too, as in himself he is Trinity (a team of three) and Jesus worked with a team on earth (the twelve disciples).  

Scripture, prayer and sacraments as central guides to the worshiping community. Scripture, prayer and sacraments have guided Christian worship through the ages, and we intend to continue to hold strong to these pillars.  Different denominations or styles of worship have stressed different ones of these three at different points in history, though all of them are what God has used to guide his church.

Loving God as Trinity and loving people. Loving God and people is at the root of Jesus’ teaching and way of life.  Thus, we want to reinforce this and remind ourselves, that no matter what we do, whether we move mountains with our faith, or bring 1000 people to Jesus, it simply doesn’t count for anything if we do not have love.  

As you can see, God is moving in exciting ways at St. Luke, and not only in this service or through this team.  If you are interested in joining us in worship, or interested in seeing what we do, I invite you to come out when we launch in the Fellowship Hall in September.  If you don’t find this new service to be what interests you, I’d encourage you to keep worshiping as you always have been and join in praying for us as we partner together to further the work of helping people draw closer to God and become mature discipleship of Jesus Christ.

© 2021 St. Luke UMC
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