Wow, What a brilliant evening we had last night. Thanks to all those who helped make it happen and who came along. It’s always a risk doing something different; anxious about whether anyone will turn up, whether people will let go and participate and even whether the venue will be ready in time to start because your plans are so ambitious! But I have learnt again that where Jesus is involved none of those things matter. We did set up in time, we did have a fair few come and everyone really got stuck in. As my Husband reminded me the promise of Jesus’ presence means that however, wherever, and whenever we meet he WILL be there and people WILL leave changed from time spent with Him.I will give an outline of our event below and then throughout the week explain a few of the elements in more detail so you may be able to have a go yourselves!
The theme of the evening was ‘The Potters House’. Everyone was greeted on the door with an invitation welcoming to the evening.When everyone had arrived we moved through into the main space. When all is stripped away and it is just us and God in his house we can be truly free and truly ourselves. To let God remould and reshape us- give him our fears so he can squash them and make something new together. It paints a brilliant picture of heaven being a place of creativity and imagination. All the elements throughout the space were to encourage people to do this.
A few notes on setting up the space: If, like us, you are using the same room you meet in regularly, it can be a good idea to change it so people feel transported to somewhere special. We used hanging sheets as partitions and were hoping to hang a canopy ( but the ladders were unavailable!) We provided informal chair seating in groups of 3 around the edge and plenty of blankets and cushions on the floor to encourage people to sit, lie, dance unrestricted by formal seating. Think about where the focal point is. For us it was a central table so a circular layout was used with the live music to one side.
The central table featured lots of play dough- a space for people to craft and mould, inspired by Jeremiah 18, a chance for people to encounter God using their senses and imagination. Play dough is great as it is very hard to create something gallery worthy so even the least creative feel uninhibited using a children’s toy! I will go into this in more depth later this week.
We also had a couple of open umbrellas. One containing the names of God. When all is stripped away we discover God is all sufficient. The names of God were there for people to take, mediate on, use creatively as they wished. The other a selection of images cut out and laminated from magazines to be used as inspiration to pray. Umbrellas are brilliant as containers- better than having more tables around and in this case continued the concept of God being our protector and our shelter;a place of safety. We also had a table with painting and drawing tools available for those you wanted to do this.
We set up a projector at the far end of the room onto which we showed some looping images. I compiled the film from images I found and overlayed text saying, sit with me, hold my hand, eat with me, drink with me and walk with me. They faded slowly from one to another and were there as a constant prompt for people to hear God whisper and invite them into his Home.
We also had some live music. 2 very talented guitarists played and sung throughout the evening. Not for formal congregational singing but to enable them to use their gifts to respond to the Holy Spirit in creating an atmosphere that reflected what was happening and what God wanted to do. It did exactly that and helped people to feel at ease, prompt them to worship, and respond prophetically to the Holy Spirit. Thanks Nick and Ash! If possible live music is better than just a CD. It adds another spine tingling dimension.
The surprise of the evening was a mystical labyrinth. This was hidden from view as it was positioned on the stage behind the curtains. I will explain this ancient form of worship later this week, however I will say that people went up two or three at a time to walk the path marked out by fairy lights. Communion was position at the centre of the labyrinth. It was a special place – a sanctuary, offering people the chance for a real intimate encounter with God. Its an ancient form of mediation and one that connects us with a deeper place in God.
The evening was not lead through from the front but was a liquid experience where people were responsible for what they did and when; a real unforced, unpressurised evening, no limits to how long to do any one thing, simply just a space where everyone could engage at their own speed and level. Here’s a few photos and I will write more tomorrow!