Home > Christianity, Church, Quakers > A Gathering of Friends

A Gathering of Friends

I’ve appreciated the dialogue surrounding the previous posts, and hope it will continue – especially in your churches, where it matters the most. I also wanted to share one way that Newberg Friends Church has been attempting to address this need, though the addressing of it has not necessarily been intentional.

For two years now we have been creating and hosting a bi-weekly worship gathering which we call five o’clock gathering. It arose from a group discernment process (which I was not part of) that several of the regular attenders/members of NFC entered into three years ago. The model we use is both simple and complex – challenging and life-giving. We operate under the assumption that we have freedom to fail, and sometimes we do.

Here are the basics:

There are 10-12 of us who meet every week to think about overarching themes, issues, ideas, etc. This team is open to anyone who wants to commit to regularly meeting together – and is made up of people ranging from about 20-50 years old. We do have two in the group who are paid staff members of NFC, so it is connected with the overall ministry of NFC, though I don’t think any of us see that as a requirement for it to work.

For each gathering we appoint a lead person from the core group to invite people onto the content team, organize meetings, and together develop the content of a given gathering. We attempt to include youth and young adults on these teams. There are other teams (music, dinner prep, ambiance) that also have a hand in each week’s gathering and have revolving members, including youth.

I believe one of the most significant aspects of our gatherings is that we try to share the teaching, and invite young people to be involved in that. This past week we had an 8th grader and  a college Junior among our teaching team. This is made possible, I believe, through using short teaching chunks throughout the service (3-7 minutes) that do not seem too overwhelming for someone who may not feel empowered or polished enough to share in front of 75 people.

This has been a learning experience for all of us, and we have wrestled with many issues that come from such a non-traditional approach to teaching – our culture does not do a good job of providing significant space for youth to share. But it has been a joy and I believe has planted seeds of vocal “ministry” in many young people.

One final note – it is not easy recruiting youth – they often need a couple of invitations to even believe you are serious about their involvement. But my opinion is that without their involvement, this gathering would soon die off. Instead, it is thriving, I believe.

And it is beautiful. Here is a link to our Facebook group page – feel free to join it: https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=120713197962983&ref=ts

Your thoughts? Questions?

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Categories: Christianity, Church, Quakers
  1. Jason L.
    June 9, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Thanks for sharing about this, Jamie. It sounds like a cool experiment you guys are engaging in! I particularly affirm your recognition of a lack of leadership/sharing opportunities for young people. Youth will be given chances to lead and gain new experience, whether it’s on a sports team or giving a class presentation. Without being given the chance to lead in the church, be observed by experienced leaders, and given feedback, how do we expect that the next generation of church leaders will learn? It’s the crucial role of established church leaders to be actively seeking out opportunities to develop young leadership–very exciting to hear you’re doing it so intentionally! I also find the leadership model you’re using fascinating…any interesting or unforeseen challenges/successes you’ve seen arise?

    I am really, really curious about the discernment process your church undertook that led to this new gathering. Do you know if there was a particular need the congregation sensed which led to the service’s creation? Were there any other outcomes from the discernment process besides the gathering? I’ve been thinking a great deal about the value and purpose of discernment/orientation times in the local church–hence my interest!

  2. June 13, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    Jason,

    There was a group of folks who felt a yearning for something different than what was being offered, and they also wanted it to be a part of the church and not something disconnected. So they met over the course of a semester to discern/dream about what that would look like. If I remember correctly, there process ended in a couple of unique services similar to what we have been doing.

    But it was not until perhaps 6 months later that a larger group formed (which is where I joined) to think about a regular gathering time. We are a fluid group – people joining and leaving for different reasons – though there are 5 or 6 of us who have been on the planning team for the whole 2 years. It is still a work in progress, for sure!!

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