Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Breaking The Routine (even for us)

Ten days ago we had an unusual service. Ok, so maybe all of our services are unusual, when compared to most churches. But it was unusual--and special--even for us.

We had a farewell service.

A founding family in our church is moving to another state and we decided to focus for a Sunday gathering on them. It's not a small move, either in distance or impact on their family. It's the first step in pursuing a big dream that God put on their hearts.

Rather than just add a side item in a “normal” service, we dedicated the entire day to this event.

Here's what it looked like:

First, as usual, we had a meal, including a large cake with "I know the plan I have for you…" written on it (a rich, moist chocolate cake with white icing…I love a good cake!)

We began with some worship music. Some of our musicians had chosen songs and came ready to play.

Then, we invited the couple leaving to sit in chairs and share their life stories (myself and another elder interviewed the couple). They both happen to have been born into very troubled situations, radically changed by Christ, and now are leaders in our church with two precious daughters.

After that, members of our church were invited to share how they had been blessed by them over the years. Some powerful words, verses, even songs played via iPhone, were offered and we had to pass tissue boxes around the room to dry tears several times.

Then, representing the whole church, elders washed their feet, praying blessings over them out loud while we did so.

Then more worship music and a few more verses and personal messages.

Finally, I stood, reminding the church that their story is just what Jesus came to do: to bind up the broken-hearted, set the captives free, and proclaim the Year of Jubilee (Luke ??). We cheered and clapped our praise for God's goodness.

And we closed with the farewell family standing in the middle of the room while we laid hands on them in prayer to commission them to proclaim to others the same healing, health, and freedom that God had granted them.

It was one of the best services we’ve had, full of the bittersweet emotions that mark Christian farewells. And I’m so glad we didn’t feel obligated to do a “normal” (for us) service.

What’s going on in your church that might benefit from a special service? Not just a special announcement during a normal service, but a totally different service?

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