Reflections on Launching A New Worshiping Community – The Bridge
“Show me how you work, God; School me in your ways. Take me by the hand; Lead me down the path of truth. You are my Savior, aren’t you?”
Psalm 24: 4 – 5
By Rev. Doug Cushing
August 15, 16 and 17 was our ‘Big Launch Weekend’ at the bridge Presbyterian Church. The feedback I got from visitors participating in our Friday Ribbon-Cutting & Open House; our Saturday ‘Big Launch Carnival’ and our Sunday worship services, was very positive. I’m confident that God’s mission at the bridge will grow spiritually and numerically. In fact, some are predicting rapid growth for our new worshiping community.
That said, I find myself struggling to tell the story of our ‘Big Launch Weekend’ without using numbers. The challenge for me is to push beyond traditional metrics to uncover the deeper story of God’s Spirit moving powerfully in the lives of the Christ-followers who are partnering to launch the bridge Presbyterian Church. There are three ways I witnessed the Holy Spirit at work during the weekend. These three glimpses of the Spirit’s transformational power at work are how I choose to tell the story of the ‘Big Launch Weekend’ at the bridge.
Witnessing the Holy Spirit at Work
“I get it. We’re not launching the church. We’re just launching worship,”
– quote from one core group member.
By emphasizing to the growing congregation that we are launching worship, instead of launching the church, our leadership team is helping people shift their understanding of church from ‘church a place where things happen’ to ‘church as a people sent on mission.’ The clearest sign that people at the bridge Presbyterian Church are embracing a new, missional understanding of church are the words printed above our logo on the back of our new t-shirts. The words: “We are the bridge,” designed by people at the bridge to provide a glimpse of the missional paradigm shift new churches need to embrace.
“Y’all are passionate about Matthew’s Ministry,”
– quote from a first-time visitor at the bridge.
During worship, two leaders of our emerging congregation shared about our partnership with Matthew’s Ministry. Matthew’s Ministry provides food for elementary school children in Brunswick Co suffering from food scarcity by filling nondescript book-bags with food. The book-bags are distributed to at-risk children each Friday. Witnessing a new congregation passionately and sacrificially embracing God’s mission to feed hungry children was insightful. It showed me that when Christ-followers galvanize around exciting, hands-on ministry, theological differences can be overcome by the sheer joy of service to God and others. Knowing that our theological differences won’t magically go away, this is, likely, a glimpse of the way forward for churches wishing to remain relevant in post-Christian America.
“Wow, I want to come to your church.”
– quote from a person at P.T.s Old Fashioned Grill.
Friday evening, after our ribbon-cutting and open house, a group from the bridge, decided to celebrate by having a burger and a beer at P.T.’s Grill. The group sat under the stars, eating, drinking and laughing, together. Meanwhile members of the bridge praise band provided entertainment for everyone dining outside. Nobody outside our group knew we were part of a new church. Yet, the quality of our shared life, together, was so compelling that someone approached me and asked if it was true that we were part of a new church? Christ-followers, who do life together with authenticity and integrity, are a compelling and witness to non-Christians.
Keeping On – Moving Forward
Big Launch Weekend at the bridge Presbyterian Church will, undoubtedly, increase the number of people partnering in mission at the bridge. We estimate that we will soon be averaging over 100 in Sunday worship attendance. With limited space, this anticipated growth will lead to a second worship service – which, in turn, will lead to more numerical growth. That’s cool and we are grateful to the Lord for the increase. However, for me, the real story of launch weekend comes from these glimpses of the Holy Spirit is at work transforming lives and shifting church planting paradigms.
To learn more about the Bridge Presbyterian Church – New Church Development explore…
- Rev. Dr. Doug Cushing