Worship Without Walls

April 28th, 2014

Pastor Jacob Armstrong and Providence Church plan a Worship Without Walls day of mission each year.

Becky Yates is the Outreach Coordinator for Providence Church. Here she answers questions about Worship Without Walls.

What is Worship without Walls and how did it get started at the church?
Becky: Worship Without Walls was born from an idea Pastor Jacob shared with the leadership team, about having a day of service in our community. He wanted it to be more than just work with an emphasis on service. His vision was to have this during the worship hour. From there it developed into Worship Without Walls, serving God through service to our community.

Basically, it is a day of service projects in our community; designed to give our church the opportunity for hands-on work as well as the opportunity to show the people of our community that we care about them.

How do you structure this type of worship experience?
First, we structure this as worship, not just a day of service. It is important that we communicate that worship takes on many forms; that it may be different than sitting in a service on Sunday morning. Instead of a worship service, Worship Without Walls is "worship THROUGH service." We meet briefly for a short corporate worship to set the stage spiritually. We want to create the atmosphere of "Fill us up and send us out." We also have t-shirts for the day to allow us to communicate that worship does not end when you walk out of the building. We've had visitors come be part of the worship then grab a t-shirt and go out to serve.

The projects are determined by talking with local city government, ministries, and other groups in our community. Networking is critical as we begin to identify where the needs are. We try to balance the work by offering a variety of service opportunities—everything from sedentary to strenuous and from beautification projects in our community to one-on-one with senior adults who need help around their homes. Offering a variety of projects and tapping into different people's interests and skill levels is critical. We also plan family friendly activities so that children ages four years and up can participate!

How has the community responded?
We hear comments quite often such as: "Oh, you're that church that worked on Sunday!" "I've heard about you—you're the church that is always doing things in our community!" Our local city government has begun to contact us during the year when they have a need. WWW has developed new ministry opportunities with local non-profits that are serving those we want to help serve. This indicates to us that they see us as a church who is missional, involved in our community, and that we want the opportunity to serve people.

Our covenant members have embraced this enthusiastically. It really seems to strike a chord with people who want to be personally involved in mission and ministry. It has been encouraging to see it embraced by every age group, from the youngest to the oldest.

The first year we kept this a secret, except from the leadership, and announced it on Palm Sunday with the date set for the Sunday after Easter. That first year we weren't sure what the reaction and turn out would be but Pastor Jacob spent weeks during his sermon time planting seeds about service. Though it had a tremendous impact that first year, each year since we've had more opportunities to make announcements, a table and online sign-ups, now everyone expects WWW! We have members give ideas for projects that they have then agreed to lead! We've also had visitors become covenant members after participating in WWW.

What suggestions would you give a church who wanted to plan a WWW?
Plan projects for more people than you will have. It quenches the enthusiasm when there are more people than projects. No one wants to stand around with nothing to do when they are there ready to work.

Network throughout the year with local non-profits, ministries, city government, anywhere that could be a potential area of service. We uncovered an organization serving low-income senior adults that we didn't even know existed! Not only is this giving us projects for WWW, but it is offering an opportunity to develop an ongoing ministry in our community.

Your local city government is a great source for service projects. Through our Parks Department we found projects that allow people to come in with chain saws and other power tools to clear a fence row in our local park—a very popular project! Department heads now work with us several months before the event and have learned that we are not there to do busy work but really want to help them accomplish tasks that might not be in their budget or require more hands than they have available.

Is there a particular testimony that stands out?
One year, our pastor received a couple of text messages such as "Now we know we have found our church home." Our vision of "seeing those who feel disconnected from God and the church find hope, healing, and wholeness in Jesus Christ" permeates our worship, small groups, and outreach. Helping people reconnect to God and the church is who we are and WWW reflects this.

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