Last night, we began our new Saturday evening worship service at 5:30 PM. The service is held - weather permitting - in our outdoor chapel, surrounded by the lush, green beauty of God's creation.
The service itself is very casual, somewhat spontaneous, and a little less "churchy" than our Sunday morning practice. Acoustic guitar accompaniment (my first public venture of that type in well over a decade) led in a mix of songs from different genres, adding up to a pretty "folk music" sound. In the weeks to come, I hope to have my daughter Kate adding her fiddle to the mix, and I may play the harmonica now and then. A teen percussionist in our church will be joining us soon as well (once he's back from vacation). I preached in my typical, conversational, "folksy" style, which really matched the worship environment. Attendance was good but could get better.
All in all, a nice first service. We will hold these services throughout the summer. Our hope is to draw folks who don't normally "do" Sunday morning; there is no other Saturday service in the Pleasant Hills/Jefferson Hills area, other than one Roman Catholic mass (in which, as per official Roman doctrine, non-Roman Catholics are not permitted to participate). If the new service doesn't really work out, then we don't need to do it next summer; while I have high hopes, I don't want to commit the congregation to something that "doesn't work", and worship services can get entrenched fairly quickly.
Today, we also went to our summer Sunday schedule, with only one service at 9:30 AM. JUMC folks are big on traveling and vacations, and we tend to have a lot of folks "on the road" in the summer, which is great; one service suits our needs well during the hot months, at least for now (it was pretty full today, actually, so we'll have to see how things progress). This also means that, amazingly, I'm done by 10:30 or 11 AM, and free to be with Robyn and the kids. Good stuff.
We have a wonderful, growing church...last week we took in 5 new members and have 4 more "on deck". We live in a vital, vibrant growing area that is close enough to enjoy all the amenities of city life while still remaining a distinct suburban community, not too far from the beauty of the country. I have a knockout for a wife who exudes the grace of God, and four unbelievably loud but otherwise healthy children. I am blessed!