Everything about the service is designed to be relaxed and interactive, but you won’t be forced to do anything you aren’t comfortable doing.
Plan on arriving a few minutes early to get settled (that is, grab some coffee and find a seat!). There will be some music playing in the background and a bunch of people gathering. If you would like to use our Nursery, it is located just down the hall, just a minute or two away.
But we would actually prefer to have families worship together, including young children!
During the service, you will be invited to participate in some kind of interactive experience (we call them “stations”). Some are geared for adults, others for children.
During communion (we call it “Upper Room Time”), those who wish to participate come forward and gather in a circle around the altar whenever they are ready (just watch what the others do, and you will catch on). If you aren’t ready for that, there won’t be any pressure to come forward.
Throughout the service, you will see people dropping their tithes & offerings in a basket. If you are our guest, we don’t expect for you to give anything. For those who call St. Peter “home,” we know that these gifts are an important part of our worship, demonstrating our trust in God’s ability to provide for us and helping our ministry thrive and grow.
For some, it was a bad experience.
For others, it was a growing sense of feeling disconnected.
Whatever the reason, there are an ever increasing number of people in America today who are disconnected from a local church. Sometimes called the “Nones” (read more here), these people have left the church…and don’t plan to come back! Add to that the growing number of people who have not grown up in the church or in a relationship with Jesus, and we have a massive challenge before us!
We believe that we are uniquely positioned to face this problem head on by introducing a new worship service in our Life Center. We are targeting those who are comfortable in a more relaxed, informal environment.
We believe that we are uniquely able to provide “an authentically Lutheran” (think: focus on Jesus; power of the Gospel; Word & Sacrament as central focus of worship; worship as receiving from God and responding to Him; high view of the priesthood of all believers; high view of the office of the public ministry) and yet “highly contemporary” service (think: band, flexible, relaxed, coffee, unique sequences, stations, interactive) that no other Lutheran (or sacramental) church in our region is able to offer.
We believe that there are many “de-churched” people in our community who have been burned by bad experiences in “formal” churches (think: “If I walk into this church, the building will fall down on me!”) and, if we were able to create an informal environment and worship service, they could have a better chance of reconnecting with Jesus.
We believe that Satan throws up all sorts of barriers to try to keep people who are far from Jesus from coming to worship (think: my kids are too loud/crazy, “I don’t fit with that crowd,” “church is boring,” “I don’t want to be preached at…I want to DO something…”). While remaining true to “who we are,” we want to try to strip away as many potential barriers as we can to help people connect with Jesus.
One of the most fundamental changes we want to make in Encounter is changing the way that you see your role in the worship experience.
Throughout the history of the church, a certain pattern has been firmly established: a few people are busy up front, a bunch of people sit and observe. Even the architecture of the worship space tends to reinforce this.
While not without value, this pattern tends to reinforce a “consumer mentality” that leads people to chase after the best “performance” rather than focus on true, Biblical community. It puts you (at least most of you) in the posture of a passive observer rather than an active participant, no matter how hard we may try to make worship “engaging.”
Here is how we plan to change this dynamic.
It begins with the layout of the room.
When you enter the Life Center for Encounter, the room itself will say, “You have a place here, a role to play.” By arranging the seating “in the round” we are inviting you to engage with everyone else in the room, not just those “up front” (it will be hard, by the way, to find a “front” in the room!). By increasing the space between rows and widening the aisles, we are signaling to all who gather that you can actually get up and move around during the service (and not just to stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, shuffle forward in a line, sit down, go home).
It also involves how things get done.
We are deliberately NOT scheduling a bunch of volunteers who make the service happen. Instead, we will have one “host team” (it might be a family or a group of friends) whose job it is to “assign tasks” to those who show up, just like at a family reunion!
When you enter, you will see a sandwich board with a list of a few simple jobs that need to get done, along with a simple set of instructions for how to do the jobs.
Examples could include:
– Greeting people as they arrive
– Getting out the kids’ bags and/or instruments
– Setting up refreshments
– Setting out the communion elements
– Helping the pastor distribute communion
We want to encourage as many of you as possible to come a little earlier – let’s say 10-15 minutes – and offer to help, as needed. If you see something on the sandwich board that you can do, offer to help. Someone from the “host team” will let you know if someone else is working on it or if there is another job that needs to get done. If everything is covered, you get more time to meet others, get to know them, and help build community.