This weekend we made a big announcement, at least we thought it was a big announcement.
At prime time church time (9-12 Sunday mornings) we have no space, no seats, no overflow area, no standing room, nothing. We didn’t have a creche this year, or last year, because we don’t have any room to display it. The area we use to use for display is now used for seating. We often use tents on the front plaza, if we’ve got something special going on, because we have no place to do more in the building.
It’s a problem. It’s a high class problem, a problem we’re glad to have, but it is a problem.
Actually its two problems. The first is the discomfort and disfunction of our current space for current members and programs. The second is the ability to grow, receive new members, make disciples, like the Lord told us to do.
We have a team of talented people looking at strategic, long term planning to address the issue of capacity. Meanwhile, we have another team of talented people working on a short term, immediate solution to receiving more people and growing. Here’s what they’ve come up with.
Beginning the weekend of February 21 and continuing to May we are going to be expanding…one church, two campuses. Nativity on Ridgely Road and Nativity at Crowne Plaza, which is on Greenspring Drive. At Crowne Plaza we will be hosting a Sunday morning (10:30am) Worship Service. In keeping with our value of “dynamic orthodoxy” (presenting unchanging truth in changing ways, readapting our tradition in creative ways) we are using as our model an ancient Catholic service called the “Mass of the Catecumen.” Back in the early Church, people who were not in the Church, would be invited to come for the first part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word (the readings, the message), but they wouldn’t stay for communion, because they weren’t “in communion.” The idea was the New Testament idea of sharing the Word of God as a way of getting people to change their lives (and get into “communion” with the Church).
That’s what we’re going to be doing at Crowne Plaza, hosting a worship service that is not a Mass, for people in Timonium who don’t go to Mass, who don’t have a Church, who perhaps don’t even like Church. The service will include the very same music, technology, a cafe, kidzone, and much of the same experience we have at Ridgely Road. Tom will lead the service and the message will be a video of the weekend message given at Ridgely Road. That’s why we’re calling Crowne Plaza a “video venue.”
In order to have two campuses, we need help. We need hosts and cafe workers, parking ministers, children’s ministers, an “ops” team. We are making a challenge for 200 people to step forward and serve, and we are challenging another 100 to agree to go to Crowne Plaza and invite someone to come with them and check it out. (we can’t host a great worship service if no one is there, we need a “there” there.
We don’t know where this is going, we don’t know what we’re doing but we do know God is with us, because he has promised to be with us whenever we even try to do what he’s told us to do. And he told us to make disciples. He did not tell us to go to Crowne Plaza, that our idea. If it works, we’ll give him the glory (if not, we’ll try something else).