Friday, 16 October 2015

Small changes can net big results

My past Sunday was a two-fer, that is I visited with two London churches for their worship services. They're both United Church congregations and are growing. They're not making bread or worshipping in a bar. They're not sitting around tables with coffee or playing goth music. Just goes to show not every success is about making big changes. Instead, they have made smaller changes that are bearing fruit.

The major change that Riverside made was adding a second service, the 844. It's a pared  down, reflective, acoustic service. What struck me most about that worship though was the degree of lay leadership. Several people helped lead prayers. The reflection was broken up into a series offered by both children and adults. Everyone was very engaged. This seems to be the tone they set each week and it's paid off. People come because they enjoy the folk quality of the music and because they feel connected to G-d through each other.

Trinity has only one service but it has doubled in attendance. Again, there is shared leadership and a great sense of community. Time is taken to acknowledge birthdays and other events, to pray for specific concerns, to affirm supportive relationships. Music is a big part of this service, drawn from multiple sources - everything from Pearl Jam to praise choruses to traditional hymns.

What most struck me though was the sense of inclusion for people wherever they are at in their journey. Calling themselves the golden rule church, they have one rule - treat others as you wish to be treated. Simple but effective. The tone was set with this one statement: "No matter who you are or what you believe, you are welcome. We ask only that you believe in kindness. Here you are a partner not a project." I loved that. Not a big change in format but a profound change in attitude.

Both congregations were focused on creating communities where everyone felt affirmed, everyone felt they could contribute, everyone felt they belonged.

Not huge changes but profound just the same.


  1. Very interesting, and how encouraging to see that there are differing scales and modalities of change that can bee successful! "844" as a service name seems significant though; do you know where it comes from?

  2. It's just the time of the service. Cool though.

  3. It's just the time of the service. Cool though.

  4. I noticed in the "844" service that there was no cross in evidence at the front of the sanctuary. If the cross had been at the front, the video screen block visual access. I believe we do not necessarily need to have the cross to be visible in the regular spot.