My mentor Dr. Len Sweet says that as we mature in faith we have to “put down the fork and put on an apron.” I have thought about that concept a lot. John Wesley discovered that when he was doing missionary work, he was transformed by God even more than the people he was serving. Service does a great deal to transform us. There is a guy that I have been talking to lately named James Zinkand. James is a great guy and is bicycling through Africa with his friend J.P. James was telling me that they are riding through Africa to raise money for some charities and to help everyone they see that they can help. This is an amazing thing to do and these guys have tremendous hearts. Through the service that James is doing, he is thinking about God more and we were talking about that a little bit. When we love other people and have a heart of service, God becomes clearer to us. Although James doesn’t know what to think of faith and religion at the moment, he is exploring the idea of who God is in his life and would love it if we could all pray for him and his friend as they take this journey through Africa on bicycles. In my sermon last week, I talked about how God works though the little things that we do and I have no doubt that God is going to be working through James and JP as they journey into Africa doing whatever they can to serve as many people there as they can.
This last conversation I had with James caused me to start thinking about worship. We worship God in lots of different ways and we are in the midst of starting a new worship service. Often when I go to worship, I automatically am in the mode of going for myself. I want to see what I can get out of it and if I like it or not. When I became a pastor, I began to realize what it really meant to go to a worship service for others, to make their experience better and to be on a journey with God and them. Building relationships with others and having a heart of service in worship makes all the difference in the world. I have been struggling with just how to run the new Saturday night service because I think of all the different people that might have different feelings about what we do. There is no way to make everyone happy and our strategy of making each worship service unique is so that we can focus on different groups of people, or what they call in the new church world, “mission fields.” The Saturday night service is going to be more experiential and participatory. The mission field that it is intended for is people that are outside of the church and people that are seeking a community of faith and a relationship with God, people like James. My hope is that there are people coming to this service that have had a negative perception of church and who may not be aware of any relationship they have with God. We should want these kind of people to come to every worship service we have, but the truth is that worship services become about what touches the people that are already there, not about the people that are outside the church. All of these kinds of services are very important, but this one will be different because we will always try to keep the people in mind that aren’t there yet, what their needs are and what they like. In order to get a service like this going, there need to be at least 50 - 100 people that commit to coming every time they can, for the first 6 months or a year. Normally, I would get people’s names down on paper, and I still might do that, but I am trusting that there are enough people in this church with servant’s hearts that will come to this service, not because it is for them, but because they care about people outside of the church. We may talk about something you already know, or things may come up that make you uncomfortable, but if we always remember that we are there to be in community with others that come from a very different place than us, we can have a successful ministry through this service. Thanks for being such a great church and let’s put the “service” in Worship Service.