Archive for June, 2008

Community, Missional

Light the Night: Another Message


Light the Night is a way to impact your community on the night of trick-or-treating with the message that Jesus is the light and that the light overcomes darkness.

We’ve done it for years now in different communities and have found it to be the single most attended event by the community hands down. Where we might get 2 to 20 people from the community to attend an on-site dinner, concert, VBS, or children’s event, we connected with 400 to 500 people through Light the Night last year.

The idea is to have one or more homes in the community host the event. It is critical that you do not have it on church property.

You put up a welcoming banner (preferably the same one is used by all the homes hosting no matter what church affiliation) and literally flood the home with light – bank lights, spot lights, Christmas light, every light object you can gather – and invite people on a night dedicated to evil and darkness to experience the light.

You have games (with candy or tickets for prizes), puppet shows (giving the message of the night), free food (cotton candy, hot dogs, popcorn, etc.), music, drawings, and gift bags with information about who is hosting the event.

The two great things for our churches have been that it is something that can pull in every person in the congregation to help with and that it meets people where they live – literally. We saw a lot of community building as parents stood around visiting with neighbors they may have never spoken to before while the kids ran around playing games. It has not been unusual to see parents literally dragging kids away to “finish trick-or-treating” only to return a few minutes later because kids knew a good thing when they saw it!

For ours, we put people into ministry teams: set up and tear down service team, evangelism team (they handed out the gift bags and were charged with simply talking to parents), intercession team (who prayed over the neighborhood and event site), administration/children’s team (who ran the games), administration/planning team and food service team.

A church in State College, PA, started Light the Night seven or eight years ago. The vision for it is to get all the churches in your community doing it to have the greatest impact. It’s one thing to know people go to church, it’s another to see home after home in your city proclaiming the message of Jesus.

Lisa G. Yoder & Gary D. Yoder
Grandview Church of the Brethren
S/C Indiana District

Community, Worship

2/3 Service: Three Elements – Two Styles – One Service


We are now about 6 months into doing a 2/3 service at Grandview Church in S/C IN District. Our 2/3 service is our solution to several problem areas we see across the country in most small churches: inability to come together to name one missional focus, power-struggles over worship style, and having a worship place to invite new people into joining.

Thus, we’ve gone from blended to what we are calling a 2/3 service. One service is split into three parts and incorporates two distinct worship styles. The first part is strictly traditional worship (hymns, responsive reading, offering, etc.). The second part is for church family events (like baptism, baby dedication, VBS presentation) and sermon. The final third is strictly contemporary worship (IWorship, worship team, flags, children with ribbons and instruments, etc.).

If you want to attend a traditional worship service, you only stay for the first two-thirds. If you want to attend a contemporary worship service, you come for the last two-thirds. Yet, everyone in the church is together for the same sermon at the same time.

The traditional people feel like they have a stable service they can count on and like. The contemporary attendees are much more free than they were in the blended service; they don’t feel now like if they act like they enjoy the praise and worship they are offending someone else in the congregation who does not.

Our children are released from childcare for the third-third to worship with parents. On about week 3 or 4, parents suddenly realized they could relax – it didn’t matter if the baby toddled across the row – no one noticed in the more casual atmosphere. Children didn’t have to sit stone still – they could grab a sand shaker or ribbon and actively worship. It was great to watch this realization come over the parents. We are considering renaming this section “family worship” as we don’t feel “contemporary” is a good tag anyway.

What do we do for transition you are probably wondering (that’s always the first question). We have brought back the Brethren greeting time. As people enter who are coming at the start of the second third (because they want a contemporary worship experience), we break with a countdown video. Everyone greets one another and then settles back in together. At the end of the second third (after the sermon) we have a prayer ministry time in which those who are leaving can exit and children come in – we start in with an IWorship song to give the praise team time to gather and get things going again. We’ve just started trying a countdown video during this second transition as well.

The number one thing we hope to accomplish with this style is to be able to set aside the traditional versus contemporary underlying tensions long enough to come together over ministry focus. Some leadership have misunderstood and thought the two-thirds service was going to cause dramatic church growth alone (which it has not – though a number of people who left the congregation because of the blended worship have returned to attend the traditional service, and we have some families more engaged now that we have the contemporary worship). We are now concentrating on getting leadership to identify and go with one God-given ministry focus. We are also launching ministry teams this summer with a full launch this fall (but that’s another post).

We are happy to answer questions about how we make the transitions work, what impact it has had on the children’s department (our greatest care was placed here going in), how we resource it with both people and ministry resources, etc.

Pastors Lisa G. Yoder & Gary D. Yoder
Grandview Church of the Brethren
S/C Indiana District


The Chrome Bean


Millennium Park Chicago – The Chrome Bean

It is huge, it is reflective, it is post modern, and it looks like a giant bean! I found it fascinating. Obviously someone had a great imagination to come up with this giant interactive sculpture. Even more importantly, the leaders of the project had the fortitude to give the artist the “okay” to make it happen.

I believe Jesus calls us the church to the same kind of “visionary” thinking about ministry. While we always are called to stay grounded in the New Testament teachings about Jesus – we also need to open ourselves to new ways of spreading the Gospel.

Monday Movie Ministry has been such a ground breaking ministry for Glendale Church of the Brethren. We screen a meaningful contemporary secular movie, take a pizza break halfway through the movie, and then we close with a discusssion drawing out the biblical themes from the movie. Finally, we close with prayer and spend a little time in fellowship.

Secular movies were once seen as an “enemy” of Christianity. However, today there are many meaningful movies being produced today that give us a wonderful illustration of biblical themes. I love doing this ministry.


Doctor “J”

Annual Conference, Special Announcements

2008 Annual Conference Activities

Here are two events that may be of interest to you, in addition to many, many others at this year’s conference.

The first event is called, Emergent Brethren Conversations, to be held at 9:30pm to 10:30pm, Monday (7/14) at the Marriott Hotel, Dominion Room. The purpose is for people who are either exploring or attempting to do Emergent ministry in or beyond their congregations. Last year, there was some really great sharing, networking and support going on. This will be another time where you can meet other people from around the country to increase your perspectives of what’s happening and what other’s are doing in ministry. I’ve been bringing this group together for 3 years now, since Brian McLaren spoke in 2005. Each time has been different, but helpful and enjoyable.

The second event is an insight session on Monday evening called, Engaging Our Communities with Jesus. The purpose of this session will be to have three congregations tell their stories of how they are engaging their communities in a way that builds God’s kingdom and the are growing as a result. One of the congregations to be featured is Community of Joy in Salisbury, Maryland. Last Summer, this congregation finally got their own building, have promoted themselves well in the community, building solid relationships and are growing in worship attendance as a result. This Insight Session will start at 6:45pm, Monday (7/14) at the Convention Center, B-15-C.

Perhaps a third event might be our networking with each other and finding a common time when a majority could meet for a meal and just hang-out. This may be tough with so many things happening. But if anyone desires it, please let me know.

Also, if anyone has any other suggestions of activities to participate in, please post them here!

Blessings to you,

Emergent Brethren Conversations
Marriott, Dominion
Monday, July 14th

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