Simple Sunday

Posted on Posted in Dave Everson

Simple Sunday was an idea that came out of our strategic planning process. It’s essentially a no-frills worship service, intended to reduce the burden on our volunteer corps.

As we’ve refined the concept since then, our Core Values have begun weaving themselves in. So alongside its original purpose, Simple Sunday is slowly maturing into a more complete, alternate expression of Mosaic’s vision and message.

With the next one coming up this weekend, I want point out a few ways that our Core Values are emerging in Simple Sundays and how I hope this new tradition will impact our church life.

Rhythm

As Ed Keegan has taught us many times, a healthy life is a life that is in rhythm. And rhythm involves both sound and silence, action and rest. Simple Sunday adds silence and rest into the rhythm of our worship.

I have to say I resent this. A lot. It interrupts the usual flow of Sunday planning. It forces me to step away from my accustomed patterns and pay attention in a new way. It’s not comfortable.

But I also have to say that this has been good for me. It’s a leash on my tendency to steamroll through life. And those stripped-down Sundays remind me how organic we are, in the truest sense of the word. They have forced me to acknowledge where suckers are growing and where new, fragile, fruitful sprouts need encouragement.

Not everyone resents Simple Sundays. In fact, almost all the feedback I’ve heard is positive. But if you do, if the informality or interruption feels jarring, I suggest trying to get to the bottom of why it bothers you. Like it has for me, Simple Sunday may be telling you something important about yourself.

Kids

We’ve taken a lot of steps over the last year to integrate our kids’ program into more of what Mosaic does:

  • we taught the kids about Rehema Home and involved them in the Rescued for a Purpose event
  • we designed last summer’s Fruit of the Spirit program to begin their lesson during the adults’ worship service
  • we carried that forward¬† by showing the short animated films from their new curriculum upstairs each Sunday

Clearly, the grown-ups are more aware of what the kids are up to. But is the same true for the kids?

That question is behind a growing desire to expose kids to the adult side of Sunday mornings. We want to let them encounter the ways their parents pray, learn, and respond together after the music ends. And we want to let them experience the 3Bs themselves. If grown-ups are allowed to belong while they work out their beliefs and figure out how to behave, then so are the kids. Simple Sunday is becoming a laboratory for creating those kinds of experiences for kids.

It doesn’t come cheap: young kids make noise, they fidget, they can’t pay attention. And although some of us grew up in churches where kids sat through the service, that hasn’t been the norm at Mosaic for many, many years. In order to make this work for us, we probably need to reaffirm the “OK-ness” of kids’ noise and movement.

But, since we’ve already agreed to be OK with the sometimes-jarring beliefs and lifestyles that adults bring with them, we can do the same with our kids’ sometimes-jarring noise and movement. That doesn’t mean we turn Simple Sunday into a kids’ service. It means the adults–parents and non-parents alike–lead the kids in finding compromises that allow all ages to worship together.

This is already happening, by the way. Mosaic is already pretty OK with kids during the services. For my family, it means sometimes Jack quietly plays Angry Birds on Don Riling’s iPhone while Lucy colors on Miss Heather’s bulletin and Kara watches Olivia crawl around the back of the sanctuary. I see this happening for other families, too: when kids are in the sanctuary, they are cared for by parents and non-parents.

As that stuff happens, those kids are sponging up rich lessons about our core values in action, not to mention friendship, community, trust, and love that family alone simply cannot provide. Frankly, if that’s happening, who cares if they don’t hear much of the sermon?

So: everyone has permission to laugh when a baby belches during a prayer. No parent needs to feel bad about standing up to lead their son or daughter to the bathroom.

And here’s another opportunity to let Simple Sunday teach you something. If a kid is making worship feel impossible for you, you certainly have permission to work it out graciously with him or her and the parents. But I strongly suggest that you try to get to the bottom of your irritation. Like the interruption in our rhythm, kids and their noise/movement/smells may be prompting you to pay attention to what’s happening in yourself as you react to them.

Or maybe they’re just loud, fidgety, and stinky. Either way, the service will be over soon.

Photo Credits
Old church: David Amsler