Two conference programs converge for innovative worship experience
This Lenten season, Verdigris United Methodist Church decided to try something new.
Church leadership could see a desire in the young people of their community to find their own space within the traditional, small-town church. Inspired by the Academy for Innovative Ministry and ImpactOK2 grant program, VUMC chose to begin a contemporary Wednesday night worship service during Lent.
“We are trying to reach a new segment of the community while working out the bugs of creating a new worship experience,” said Rev. John Miller, VUMC senior pastor.
The six-week run of contemporary services is led in part by Hannah Thompson, VUMC’s ImpactOK2 Resident. As a Young Adult Resident, Thompson works to cultivate a core group of young adult church participants in Verdigris.
“The intention is to provide for the young families, young adults, and anyone else who may want something different than they have been seeing,” Thompson said.
Families have already begun regularly attending on Wednesday evenings for praise, prayer, scripture, message and communion who haven’t been able to experience the same nourishment during the Sunday morning service at the church.
While many veteran volunteers were willing to step up to help with the additional service, Miller and Thompson intentionally sought volunteers who weren’t already filling service positions at the church.
As with any new venture, the road hasn’t always been smooth. Technical challenges, illness and scheduling issues create complications, but the team finds a solution every time.
“Each Wednesday, God prevails,” Thompson said. “People still show up with the fruits of grace and patience. We are not here to put on a perfect performance, we are here to worship Christ.”
Miller said the church hopes to use these lessons by launching a regular contemporary worship service in the fall. “We’ve seen the appetite for alternative worship options, and we want to provide that in our setting.”
Thompson plans to use the remaining time in her two-year funded residency at VUMC continuing to develop contemporary worship opportunities and connecting with young adults who desire devotion and authenticity from their faith community.
Developing ministry and welcoming new disciples are the fruits of this labor, all made possible through the leading focus of creating opportunities for connection with Christ.
“We want to lavishly worship the Lord and put him at the absolute center of everything we do,” Thompson said.