Monday, September 10, 2007

the gathering

Yesterday I mentioned that Oasis Madrid has a ministry to a couple dozen homeless people. This is one way we are trying to be "the church in the world." It's an attempt, really, of taking seriously that the body of Christ should not expect folks to "come to us"; rather, we should realize that we need to "go to them."

Another thing we do in Oasis Madrid to address this is by hosting events twice a month that we call "The Gathering".

In a document we've put together to give people a feel for what we're about, we describe it this way:

"The church is 'the people of God gathered.' As God's people come together to worship Jesus and love others, Christ's healing presence takes tangible shape in the world.

"But, too often the church finds it hard to balance our need to grow as Christians (to worship together corporately) and our call to minister to the lost and hurting. Too often, Christians get stuck into the 'Sunday morning rut', forever gathering for 'great services', but forgetting about the work Jesus wants us to do in the world—together.

"Because of that, we are attempting to balance corporate worship with corporate outreach by experimenting with the idea of 'weekly services'. It is an experiment, however, and we may (and probably will) make changes as we see the need or as we learn more about 'what works' and 'what does not'.

"To try to strike a balance however, here’s what we do:

"We have two types of large group gatherings: services twice a month & incarnational gatherings where the church gets out into the world to embody (or 'incarnate') the joy, love, and hope that Christ offers. These incarnational events range from large group friendship building events to serving in the community together.

"Below is a description of the two types:

• Worship Services: We meet the first and third Saturday of every month at 6 pm to worship God together. These services are held in a café-style setting that's candle-lit and informal. Each service includes various kinds of interactive elements designed to engage people and encourage participation. Our services also tend to be artistically expressive through utilizing things like visual art, dance, multimedia and video.

• Incarnational Events: We do these events twice per month, giving our incarnational thrust equal emphasis to our worship gatherings. These are fun types of things we do together where people who do not normally go to church can see that you don't have to go to a church service to be welcome in the church family. Some examples of friendship building events we've done in the past include picnics in the park, game days, an ice skating party, and a city-wide scavenger hunt. Basically, anything that promotes laughter and building relationships."

Yesterday, we held one of these events in Retiro park, and it was a lot of fun. We played games and ate food and had the chance to get to know new friends and link up with old friends.

A couple months ago, we held a similar picnic in Retiro. Here are some photos of it. If you're ever in Madrid on the second and fourth Saturday of the month, come join us!

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