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Monday, November 2, 2009

Notes from imagine/northampton's Very Second Worship

Let's begin with weirdness: the Wednesday previous to our very second worship my back went into serius spasm. Periodically over the years it has done so. The weirdness derived from the day after the worship: it unlocked with little fanfare. The day before, I genuinely feared I would not even be able to show up on Sunday, much less set up and play my drums. Worse still, I would be of little use in schlepping and setting up any of the other pieces to our "travelling roadshow." While much of that turned out true, I was able to play my part no the worse for wear and drawing no attention to myself.. I also received generous help borne of compassion from team members.

What worked/hints of encouragement:

1. While we knew we would have fewer folks the second worship, we had 50+ with some new people.

2. We had more people to set up and take down the stuff (we have to turn an empty space into a worship space, including the imagine kids room). In being able to do so, we then could have adequate time for the worship team to run through the set without pressure and confusion.

3. The music was tighter and better done. The potential of the team was evident. People worshiped even when the style was unfamiliar at times. We controlled the sound problems in the room a bit better.

4. We communicated announcements better.

5. We were able to get people interacting more effectively during the sermon. Jim got them talking.

6. The imagine kids room was less chaotic and there was more help for Karen and Ophelia. They had a ball.

7. The room looked beautiful. We reconfigured the set-up so the worship team was off the stage and in the nearer the people. The seating was in a u-shape and facing west rather than north as the month before. It felt a little more intimate.

8. Tricia's reflection drew people to ponder the coal which touched Isaiah's lips and the nail that pierced Jesus's wrists.

9. The food and hospitality was wonderful.

10. The coordinating of all the pre-worship logistical details was spectacular!

11. Jim's talk was clear and efficient.

12. The team of people and smattering of volunteers (some who even belong to other churches), we have to work with are wonderfully gifted and dedicated!

What still needs improving:

1. The acoustics in the room still need to be controlled better.

2. People must have the chance to participate more, so there is less a spectator worship environment.

3. No one from the town came. There are still 99% Christians in attendance (don't get me wrong, we are grateful they are with us). The "service" still addresses mostly believers and has a "churchy" feel to it. No real innovation is evident. The structure is just like what virtually every church does. More about that in my next blog.

4. We need to get better at "directing traffic" to the Northampton Center for the Arts, including places to park.

5. We need to get the word out to the town more effectively.

6. We need to do the offering more effectively so that people know our real needs.

7. We need better videos to use; perhaps even create our own.

8. The entire service was a half hour too long; we must tighten it.

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All in all, I'd give us a C, maybe a C+. Average is ok, but not in line with our core value of excellence. We have a way to go, but there is a growing, solid foundation to work from.

Please pray we have the resources, courage, strength, wisdom and humility to actually become imagine/northampton as God sees it . . . nothing more, nothing less.



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