We continue our series of posts here on the Worship Connect blog profiling individual Covenant churches. Our purpose is to celebrate God’s work in and through us, to demonstrate the diversity of approaches to worship in the ECC, and to prompt prayer for one another. We are better together.
Our latest post comes to us from Chris Logan, Pastor of Worship Arts at Community Covenant Church in Lenexa, KS.
It’s kind of like trying to pour a concrete foundation in the middle of an earthquake.
Culture in the West is changing; the new realities are that 50% of the congregation attend 50% of the time, 25% attend 25% of the time, and a faithful 25% attend 75% of the time or more. The culture in the Kansas City Metro Area is no different, and it’s a challenge for our community. AsBaby Boomers transition into a new era of taking care of aging parents, as Gen-Xers are confronted with the increasing demands of sports for their kids on Sunday, and as college-aged and young adults migrate away from the Church in droves, we can’t help but notice that the earthquake is not being kind. Given that our entire pastoral staff has changed in the last five years, and given our rather large building, you’d think the deck was stacked against us.
The people of Community Covenant Church of Lenexa, KS, are learning how to be cultural architects in these new realities. As the missional conversation has taken ahold of us, we have been well-positioned to become missionaries to our local contexts because we already think of ourselves as a big family: our (rather talented) choir is the biggest small group in our church; our pastoral team, while all new to the Covenant (and all in orientation at the same time this last year), have become good friends with a deep respect for the diverse gifts the others bring to the table; most of our volunteer base is, while busy, very dedicated to each other and the community they serve.
It’s a good place in which to be.
While there are the inevitable cultural conflicts, we recognize that these are what come in the midst of such a diverse community. Ethnically we are fairly homogenous (though this does tend to reflect our context), but in so many other ways we reflect a wide variety of ages, socioeconomic statuses, political affiliations, family backgrounds, and of course, artistic preferences.
We hold two different worship gatherings on Sunday morning that sandwich a Christian Formation hour (the new fancy term for “Sunday School”). The traditional gathering at 8:45 incorporates hymnody (led by voice, choir, organ and piano), liturgy, and tends towards a more conservative, reserved, formal flavor. Many of the regular attenders here reflect the heritage of our church family, families (now grandparents, parents, and children) who have been attending since the very beginning of our charter. The modern gathering at 11:00 is in many ways opposite in flavor; the music is generally upbeat, led by a band (that changes weekly; sometimes by a single guitar and voice, but more often by a full team with electric, acoustic, bass, multiple keyboards, drums, violin, and flute).
The sanctuary itself was built eight years ago with the traditional gathering in mind, incorporating stained glass, pews, and a full choir loft. Modular lighting is very valuable to us, as it gives us the ability to create a more colorful environment for our modern gathering, but maintain the traditional look of the sanctuary for the early gathering. It also gives us more flexibility when the space is used by many outside groups, but also by the preschool we run and by the College Prep school that utilizes our building all five days of the work week.
Through all of this, what has been most valuable has been our processing through Reggie Joiner’s book Think Orange with our staff and many in our council. To sum it up, when the light of the gospel in the Church (yellow) is combined with the loving hearts of families (red) we get an orange partnership. This has led us to retask one of our pastors to Family Ministry, to renovate our children’s wing to better reflect the culture and needs of the children themselves, and to regularly incorporate the full family of Jesus into our worship gatherings (“Orange Sundays” or “Family Sundays” ) and into events throughout the year such as our “Illuminate” event at Christmas, our “Fall Light Festival” at Halloween, and our Tenebrae and Easter Gatherings. Both incorporate all generations – the full family – in diverse ways, such as fellowship, worship through song, games, artistic presentations, and of course, food.
Lots and lots of food.
We are still learning. Our pastors have weekly meetings to discuss the ongoing project of casting (and re-casting) the compelling vision God is slowly revealing to us; we’re experimenting with meeting schedules, new ministry formats, and church leadership models; we’re reading – a lot – and we’ve joined a cohort of other pastors in the KC Metro area who are in the same boat as we are. I’m often overwhelmed thinking about the enormity of the task before us.
But as I’ve written before, God is doing a mighty work among us.
And I, for one, am thrilled to be a part of it.