Once a month we have a “Gathering.”
Does that make us sound like a cult? A little bit? Just for clarification purposes, we’re not. We picked the word “Gathering” because we don’t have another good word to use. Let me explain.
We are a regular, run of the mill, standard church. (Except not really standard at all.) We are not creepy or weird; and we are not going to steal your money or your soul; and we won’t ask you to meet us on a cliff to dance under the moon or have you chant the ancient languages of our ancestors or any of that kind of thing. #That’sFreaky
Simply, we love Jesus. And, we believe that Jesus loves us. Also, we believe that it is through Jesus that positive change happens for people, communities, and the world…because Jesus loves you, too. #JesuslovesToledo
So the story goes that we set out to start a church, but we wanted a few things to be different. We didn’t want to meet every Sunday morning for a big Sunday service because we wanted “church” to happen in smaller groups with friends and family. We wanted you to be able to meet in homes where you can let your guard down and just show up and be real and eat and pray and say, “I need more Jesus (or maybe all the Jesus) in this area of my life.”
We have mini-churches, if you will, that come together once a month for big church. One Sunday service, one time a month. But here is the problem. We have only a few options for what to name this time.
Name Options for EDC Sunday Church (that happens once a month)
Option 1: “Big Church” Which sounds totally weird and doesn’t make sense unless you have just read this blog.
Option 2: “Once a Month Church Service Time” Which is a little long and also confusing because is it a service project or a Sunday church service?
I’m confused and I’m the one writing this.
Option 3: “Gathering” Because it is the one time (each month) that all of our groups get/gather together. It literally is that simple.
Gathering = all EDC groups going to church at the same time.
So with all that being said, once a month we have a “Gathering.”
Now the questions becomes, “What exactly happens at a Gathering?” We generally do three things.
The Stuff of our Gatherings
1. Sing. There are many reasons why Christians sing. It is an act of worship. It is a form of prayer. The songs teach us (in a memorable way) something about God and our spirituality. It is a way to experience and meet with God. (Liesch, 2001). So we sing. We sing to worship, to pray, to learn, and to experience.
In case you are really interested, you can find some of the songs we sing here, here, and here. These are just some of my personal favorites. And for the record, I sound nothing like the YouTube videos when I sing. 😉
2. Pray. We pray for each other. We pray for our city. We pray for our friends. On our homepage we make the statement that Jesus is the reason we have hope of good things for the city and the people of Toledo.
When I picture our Gathering, I like to imagine that each prayer we pray is shooting out of our house like a beam of light into the darkness of the city. The apostle Paul tells us that often our struggles in life are not because of things in this world, but rather because of dark spiritual forces. The only way to overcome spiritual oppression and evil is through prayer. We believe prayer changes things.
3. Take Communion. Taking communion is a command that is central to our faith. Jesus compared the bread to his body and wine to his blood. He told people who were his followers to continue to eat bread and drink wine and do it to remember the sacrifice of his body and his blood. His body was broken and his blood was literally spilled in order that that we may receive forgiveness and be reestablished in relationship with God.
In practicing communion we remember the roots of our faith, the joy of our faith, and the hope of our faith. Communion invites us to remember brokenness and experience abundance.
The Gathering calls us to something bigger than ourselves. It ushers us into a holy experience in which we worship God for who he is and what he has done/is doing. It is a pause, a breather, a moment at the beginning of each month that we show up and say, “Here we are God, for you.”
Contributor: Randi Shepherd