3rd Service

Parkway is still taking the concept of New Beginnings seriously.  We recognize that it probably isn’t going to go well for our congregation in the long run if we simply try to just keep doing what we have been doing for years (no matter how well we work at doing it).  Our world is changing around us.  Society is changing.  People are changing.  So, a strong core group at the church is engaging in discussion about doing something different – really different. What if we developed a third worship service?

What would be different about this third service?  We would hold it off campus.  We would develop it with the express purpose of creating something interesting – not to us – but to others.  We would develop it for all ages.  And we would not lock ourselves into following a standard order of service.  That’s where we were when we began our first meeting last Sunday!

Here are some of the innovative ideas that were shared:

~Have something different each week.  It doesn’t have to be standard each week.  It doesn’t even have to be weekly.

~Have a pet friendly service.

~Have a service at the park like Son Rise on Easter morning.

~Have an activity based event.  Start with a devotion, run/walk/bike in the park.  Gather back to see what everyone’s come up with.

~Hold an event at the YMCA.

~Hold an event at a Coffee Shop.

~Hold an event on the North Shore.

~Have a musical event.

~Attract people to whatever we are doing with music.

~Stick with something awhile.  It needs to be tried much more than once.

~Don’t get stuck into the mindset that it needs to be long.  Give them something valuable and build on it in time.

~Hold an event on Saturdays.

~Bring food.  Bring drinks.

~Tie in community service.  Let them know how we connect our beliefs with our actions (and how they can as well).

~Don’t make this about church membership but about worship of God.

~Be clear on what we do.  Is it worship?  Is it a devotion?  Is it an invitation to social work?  Whatever it is, be clear.

As I consider the above ideas, I think we have the following challenges:

a) Are we developing a devotional/Bible Study or a worship service?

b) Having an irregular program, while it sounds good in theory, is a challenge in the church.  Last year, we tried holding a regular church meeting on Sundays for two months and on Tuesday nights on the 3rd month.  While that may seem straight forward, people were regularly confused as to when the meeting would be.

c)  We fill the room when all of the ideas are on the table.  But we only have so much energy and limited resources.  If we condense/coalesce  the ideas down to one or two main ones – will we keep the momentum?

I do think many of the ideas can work together.  Overall, I believe the worship service idea needs to be outdoors.  This keeps us outside of the box of rigidly developing a service based on the space versus on our goal and reduces the chance that new people will feel perhaps trapped in something they are not sure about yet.  The core of worship is speaking with and being in communion with God (prayer & praise) together.  Whatever we do, however we do it, has to focus on those things.

I also see many of the ideas being excellent, outside of the traditional box, but more in the realm of studies and/or devotionals.  I love the run/exercise one.  I’d be excited to try something in a new location.  But the key to making a new study or devotional work is inviting people.  I don’t think, as one participant aptly put, that if people nearby hear us just talking about something they will be inclined to join in.  But our folks may be much more comfortable asking friends/neighbors to meet them in the park or coffee shop for a devotional/run/biking/discussion event than they would be asking them to come to church.

I also really like the input of keeping it simple, not thinking anything we do has to be long, using music creatively, and bringing food/drinks.  All would work well in our culture.

What ideas do you have?  You can share ideas/suggestions with us even if you are reading this thousands of miles from New Orleans.  Or maybe you were in the meeting and ideas/thoughts have come to you since then.

Our next meeting will be July 13th following the Traditional Service.  Continue to pray on this, think about it, and I look forward to the ongoing discussion.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to go from planing to doing one or two new type activities this fall.

In Christ,



About Tom Paine

I am a Presbyterian Minister and ANG Chaplain interested in current events, movies, TV, and novels.
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