Moving Out of the Worship ‘Comfort Zone’

By Stan Friedman

DETROIT, MI (September 14, 2012) – Church leaders are supposed to encourage congregations to move beyond their comfort zones, and Citadel of Faith Covenant Church did just that using a unique approach over the summer.

The church cancelled two of its three services each Sunday during July and August so the congregation could lead worship at other sites, including a prison, a hospital, and a rescue mission.

While those experiences might have been a stretch for some people, so was what they were asked to do at the sites. Many of the singers had never sung in public, nor had the dancers danced, actors acted, or ushers ushered.

They did get a month to learn. Sunday worship services generally last two hours, but were shortened to one hour during June so that congregation members could rehearse in locations throughout the church during the second hour.

“We wanted our congregation to minister in a new way,” said Mark Van Andel, pastor of discipleship. “We wanted them to be captivated by doing something they’ve never done before.”

While others rehearsed, Pastor Harvey Carey met with visitors. In July and August, Citadel still held its 12:30 p.m. service in its building, but even there, some congregation members were participating in ministries that were new to them.

“It was like having a home and an away team,” Van Andel said.

Some people were upset about the change, but most of the congregation was excited. Van Andel noted that there were attendees who had only been tangentially involved with the church who now are enthusiastic about participating at Citadel.

Van Andel said one test of the summer project will be the level of continued participation in these ministries by participants. He says there is one thing that is certain: “Our church is accustomed to the discipline of never knowing what’s going to happen when you get here.”

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