At the Heart of Worship

“Worship at Vine Street is home. I come for the message. I get to sit and listen to something. It slows me down. It’s not about me. It gets me outside of my world; reminds me of the world outside of my own.”

The worship task group met on Maundy Thursday for a meal and conversation.  We talked about what is, for us personally, at the heart of worship at Vine Street, and how other Vine Streeters name that heart, that soul of worship. The text with quotation marks aren’t exact quotations, but snippets of conversation.

“For me, at the heart of worship at Vine Street is the focus on social justice, social issues. A connection with outreach in our city, not just “the world” in a global sense. I come to be inspired to action. Sometimes it’s the music, sometimes a story, etc.”

“For me, it’s about centering, learning, focusing on God. I get to cut out all the noise and get my priorities straight. I remember there’s something outside of my life that is bigger, it helps me make sense of the world, and the world is often crazy. I love communion. Worship keeps me going in the direction I need to go, and just being there is comforting.”

“For me, word and table are at the heart of worship. Centering and being called to respond outwardly. God’s kingdom through social justice. It’s very “Disciple” in the intentionality of the table and the connection to mission.”

  • Music can be powerful, and we desire more opportunities for being touched deeply by images, clips, stories, moments, etc. We want to make room to include creative and memorable elements that break the mold of predictability, room for a little playfulness within the pattern/flow of the service. 
  • We want to find ways for worship leaders to introduce elements of the service in a way similar to the invitation to the table (“this is why  we do this, this is what we are doing here” without becoming overly didactic).

At our next gathering, we will discuss how we will include the characteristics mentioned in the previous two paragraphs into the current order of our 10:45 worship.

Sailing On: 2010 Report

At our planning event on Monday, March 22, we adopted six major goals for this year. Each one is a result of our Journey process. Each one is essential for helping us live into our future story.

  1. Raise the funds and complete the search for an Associate Minister
  2. Review and revise the bylaws
  3. Coordinate Christian Education for adults
  4. Start at least one or two neighborhood groups
  5. Wrap up worship conversations and introduce changes
  6. Plan a capital campaign to be launched in 2011

We encouraged one another, and especially those of us chairing committees, boards, and other groups, to read and write about our ministry programs and events, take pictures and share them.

We encouraged all committee chairs and officers of the board to write brief monthly reports, based on a simple template, and to submit a narrative report once a quarter. The monthly reports are primarily for internal communication (leadership and congregation), the quarterly reports are also excellent to be shared with visitors to our website to give them a taste of who we are and what we do.

We encouraged one another to continue to familiarize ourself with our online social network and take full advantage of its potential for discussion, sharing pictures and video, posting documents, etc.  Thomas volunteered to meet with small groups and do an introduction for a cup of coffee.

We encouraged one another to move away from announcements before the worship service, and to move toward minutes for mission that are part of the worship service. The ultimate goal, according to our future story, is to move announcements to the gathering time in the welcome area prior to our worship services.

We asked the staff to find a way to publicize the weekly news/bulletin in an online archive.

We looked at the whole year together, and determined which groups and/or  individuals would be in charge of organizing various events.

Worship tomorrow

As a community, we have spent significant time over the last two years talking about worship at Vine Street. The conversation was part of the Journey process from day one.

In the late summer of last year, the Elders hosted a series of Worship Forums, where we looked at how Christian worship evolved over the centuries and how our Sunday morning services at Vine Street are structured.

The Elders asked me to put together a task group that would work on a proposal outlining changes we will make this year.

The group - Kathy Berhow (Chair of Worship Committee), Sarah Ligon (Deacon), Greg Rumburg (Elder), Pat Cole (who has served in every capacity imaginable), Stephen Moseley (Chair Elect of the Board), and myself - had our first meeting on Tuesday, March 16, where we clarified our goals (see below). I will continue to blog about the process, so you can follow our discussions.

These are the notes from our first meeting:

For the time being, we only look at Sunday morning; i.e., we won’t talk about Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, or Christmas.

Sunday morning currently means 8:30 chapel/9:30 christian education/10:45 sanctuary; we will discuss this arrangement and its merits.

From the Journey Story we get two key directives:

  • “clear profile” – How do we describe what makes any worship service a Vine Street service (outside of our people)?
  • “unique format” – How and why does each differ from the other?

We will

  • Refer to the Journey notes when appropriate
  • Take concrete action by June 2010
  • Make changes motivated by who we say we become according to the Story
  • Pay attention to how changes are introduced and implemented, and measure the response
  • Look at worship as the core of what we do as a church, and let it define who we are and what we do in education and other areas of our ministry
  • Make worship easy and meaningful for those for whom it has become a chore
  • Keep three dimensions in view at all times during our conversations

o    What is at the heart of worship?
o    What are the logistics?
o    How does this shape us as a community?

When we come together again, we will have thought about and answered two questions:

What is, for me, at the heart of Vine Street worship?

What is, the way I observe it, at the heart of Vine Street worship for Vine Streeters?

Now the Story

The little boat has served us faithfully.

We got on board in the spring of last year, and the Spirit of God blew across the sails – gently sometimes, forcefully occasionally, always pulling us forward.

We gathered in groups of various sizes, heard presentations and shared comments, and then we met in groups of three for one hundred days. How surprised we were to find this portion of the journey to be the single most rewarding!

All the insights and discoveries, all the thoughts, hopes and dreams were harvested – no, not to be stored in a pretty barn. Like grapes become wine and wheat becomes bread, the harvest of our conversations and prayers has become a story. Are you curious?

On Sunday, April 26, during our Spring Luncheon, we will present “Vine Street 2019,” our future story. This is not only a premiere you don’t want to miss; it is a sacramental moment: it is the embodiment of our work and prayer of an entire year, it is the call we have heard.

The Journey - Phase II

May 16-18, 2008
The Journey – Our Second Weekend

Vine Street's second Journey weekend with George Bullard will be defined by two major events:

On Saturday, May 17, we will receive the report of the results of our April weekend. George has collected and evaluated all our input and his notes, and now it’s time for us to look at the emerging picture. We will meet 9am-4pm in the Fellowship Hall. Everyone is invited to participate, and even if you didn’t attend the first weekend, you will enjoy this workshop. We will have a continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Childcare will be available.

To sign up for the Saturday workshop complete this online form.

On Sunday, May 18, following the 10:45 am worship service and the celebration of our graduates, we will gather for a catered lunch in the Fellowship Hall. After lunch, George will introduce us to the Prayer Triplets you may have heard or read about, and talk about the significance of the Summer of Prayer for our continuing Journey. All members and friends are invited, since we want the greatest number possible of Vine Streeters to be a part of the Summer of Prayer. Childcare will be available.

To sign up for the Sunday workshop complete this online form.

Are you still wondering if the Prayer Triplets are something you might want to do? We encourage you to attend the Sunday lunch and meeting, and any questions you might still have will be answered. Here are the basics:
  • Vine Street members and friends will meet in groups of three, ten times between Memorial Day and Labor Day (hence the name, Summer of Prayer).

  • Each triplet will be responsible for scheduling and facilitating their ten meetings, and there will be a detailed outline for each of the ten approximately 90-minute sessions.

  • Prayer is a significant part of each meeting, but the prayer time is informed by open dialogue about our dreams and visions for Vine Street.

  • The groups are arranged to reflect different age generations, tenure in the participants’ connection with Vine Street, church backgrounds, and theological perspectives.

  • Participants commit to enter into a no-exit relationship with two other Vine Streeters, i.e., each person in a triplet will agree to stay actively connected with their partners for this phase of The Journey.
To sign up for a prayer triplet, complete this online form.

The Journey - A Spiritual Strategic Adventure

None of us can recall the days when Vine Street Christian Church began, but we remember.

It was in 1828, about one year after Alexander Campbell’s first visit to Nashville that members of the Nashville Baptist Church nullified their founding charter and reconstituted themselves as the Nashville Church of the Disciples of Christ.

This year, we remember 180 years of ministry in Nashville – from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth. We can look back on 180 years of Christian witness, because generation after generation, this congregation has faced the challenges of the time with courage and responded faithfully.

Throughout the years, Vine Street has been attentive to the changing demands of the changing times, and obedient to God’s call to embody and proclaim the kingdom. I cannot imagine a more appropriate way to observe an anniversary than to take time to listen for God’s call; to do in our time what generations before us have done in theirs.

  • What does God call us to be and do?
  • Who does God call us to become?
  • What is the future into which God calls us to live?

Beginning the weekend of April 4-7, we will embark on a journey of discovery; a journey that consists of careful listening, disciplined prayer, imaginative story telling, and stepping out on faith. We have found an experienced coach to assist us in setting the course for Vine Street’s future. George Bullard is a Christian leadership coach and a ministry partner with The Columbia Partnership. He will be at Vine Street on April 4-7, the first of four weekends that will mark stations on the way.

On Friday evening, April 4, he will introduce us to the Spiritual Strategic Journey; on Saturday, April 5, he will meet with several focus groups; on Sunday, April 6, he will worship with us and watch how we’re “being Vine Street” on Sunday mornings. There will be other meetings with key leaders, but those details are neither urgent nor important at this point.

Remembering 180 years of our mission and witness is both humbling and empowering. Envisioning the next 10 years of our ministry could be intimidating – but not for those who listen to God’s call and trust the Spirit’s movement. Let The Journey begin!