I miss it so bad I just have to write about it a bit.
- You might plan a meeting for Feb 11th, today being Dec 28.
That gives you 5 weeks to get ready for it. The theme of the meeting might be God's romance with His church, since Feb 11 is almost Feb 14.
- One couple is chosen to be Masters of Ceremonies (MCs). They will not "do" anything during the Feb 11 meeting, but they will make sure everyone knows when, where, how, etc. for the next 5 weeks. They will also set the order of worship for that meeting.
- Break the church up into 4 groups.
Grouping everyone northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast of some central intersection, for example, might be convenient.
- Sunday, Jan 1st, one of the elders preaches a rousing sermon on Eph 5:31,32.
Sure, there might be a pastor to do that. That's cool. The point is that everyone should have a central passage of scripture on which to focus for the next 5 weeks.
- Each group goes away and plans a presentation for Feb 11.
This is the heart of the next 5 weeks. What they are doing will be clear later.
- Weekly, the church gathers. There are several things that can be done between Jan 1 and Feb 11, but let's pretend that we are not worried about those. Let's just say that someone preaches a sermon every week, and everyone is edified. Let's also assume that the Wednesday night services have been given completely over to each of the groups to prepare for Feb 11.
- Feb 11 arrives.
- Everyone has received a flier from the MCs. They know to be at the church building at 6:00, and to come hungry.
- The MCs meet each member in the foyer, and once there are a few people there, they start them singing. Nothing dramatic, just slow, centering songs that everyone knows.
- At 6:00, the MCs turn the meeting over to the Northwest group. The Northwest group takes everyone down to a large classroom, but not the sanctuary. The Northwest group spent their 5 weeks writing a song about the Son's love for His bride, given by the Father. An introduction to the song is given, and a couple of their members sing it through once. Handouts are then given to everyone, and everyone sings it through a couple times.
- It's about 6:30 when the MCs hand the meeting over to the Southwest group for dinner. The singing was intentionally planned by the MCs to precede the meal, because who wants to sing on a full belly.
- The Southwest group takes everyone into the dining room. They have set up a meal filled with symbolic foods. They open the meal with a special prayer, and at each course they explain the significance of the foods.
- A little before 8:00, the meal is over, and the MCs hand the meeting to the Northeast group. (The dishes will be cleaned by the Southwest group, but not until the meeting is completely over, some time from now.)
- The Northeast group has written a skit showing just how perfectly suited Jesus is to be the Bridegroom, and performs it in the sanctuary. At the conclusion of the skit, they lead everyone in a time of praise.
- Closing in on 9:00, the MCs hand the meeting over to the Southeast group. They knew it would be 3 hours or so before they were up, so they have some refreshments ready to go.
- After a 10 minute intermission, everyone comes back to find that the chairs have been rearranged into 2 groups, facing each other. They are asked to sit with brothers on one side, and sisters on the other.
- The Southeast group has prepared a responsive reading. The men read the Bridegroom's part, and the women the bride's part. Between the readings, there are songs for everyone to sing too.
- The evening ends with everyone singing the song the Northwest group brought again.
- The elders in each of the 4 groups, and most of the people who had "starring roles", stay after the meeting to clean up after their groups.
- The Sunday morning meeting is led by the MCs. They were privy to everyone's plans for the night, so they are in the ideal position to bring the message that ties the whole weekend together for everyone.
- This is fun!
- Everyone is involved in actually edifying the church with something of real worth. It's not just a couple of select elders who preach every week.
- Everyone has something important to do for 5 solid weeks. It takes time and effort to pull this kind of production together. Everyone will not contribute equally, but that's OK. Everyone will have the chance to give as much as they are able.
- The song the Northwest group wrote will be added to the church repertoire. If it is good enough, it may even become a part of the worship service regularly, and that is way, way cool.
- Note that since the meeting is on Saturday night, there won't be any "walk-in" unbelievers to be confused by the strange happenings. It's not an important point, really, but it relieves one little burden. The whole meeting is addressed to the saints.
- There will be 5 weeks of friction, and it will get worse as the clock winds down to 6:00 PM, Saturday, Feb 11.
This is a huge point, obviously. Some people fear this friction, and I cannot blame them. It is really the best part of it all, though. Here is a chance to work through conflict, and to really get to know the people you worship with. Just the act of working together makes this whole idea worth its risks.
There's no reason this pattern could not be used in any traditional church. It just takes a little of the ol' spirit of adventure.