7:30pm Sundays (during Semester)
George St Normal School Hall
989 George St
989 George St, Dunedin
If you allow an hour and a half, that’s going to be about right. That allows for some room around the edges for chatting at the end and so forth. We often dial it back a little during winter and as study workloads pile it up. The “time” question is no small matter, it does reveal quite a bit about our approach to ministry. We do like to have the space to move if it seems important on the day so we don’t feel that we have to rush toward the finish. But at the same time, we prefer not to make it too long for no reason! A fast game is a good game as they say!
Come from 7:15pm or so for a cup of tea and supper! It’s a relaxed space, so sit and chill or have a chat with some other people while we get ready to begin.
And if you can, we’d recommend walking in the door by 7:25pm so that you can be there for the start. But if you do come late and we’ve already got underway, it’s no stress. You’re totally welcome, and you should just stroll on in get settled.
We do our best to make it a relaxed atmosphere. Just wear whatever you would wear if you were hanging out with mates or at home, say street casual or something like that. You’re welcome to dress with a little class if you want to! But it’s just up to you.
Overall, we try to get the balance right in between it being homely and engaging. Relaxed and intentional.
We begin with a welcome from up front, and then something what we like to describe as “a call to worship.” This is a way of inviting everybody to be present in the space, and to get ready for what we’re about to do. It’s kind of like when the lights go dim at the movie theatre and the cool orchestral music plays over the introductory visuals… it’s creating a sense of anticipation about what’s to come.
After that a band or group of musicians will lead songs. For these, it’s common for everybody to stand and join in with the singing, but there’s no need to do either of those things if you don’t want to. The singing is a way of creating community, where we are participating in something together, like a makeshift choir. As we continue singing, it’s almost like we start breathing together, in sync. And it’s part of our worship, because we’re learning or being reminded about who God is, about who we are, and are becoming open to God as we do it.
(See more about our worship ministry.)
Throughout the service, there will be prayers led from up the front. Often during these there is an invite to join in, and what this means is that the person speaking is aiming to pray something that can be true for all of us, in some way. People commonly close their eyes during prayer, but this is kind of like a devotional practice rather than a rule you have to observe. Joining in with a spoken prayer might simply mean listening to the words, and kind of affirming within you the things that resonate, letting the words become your own words and the prayer become your own prayer as much as is appropriate. “Amen” at the end effectively means “let it be,” and is a way of everybody saying together that we agree (if indeed we do) that those are things we feel, think and desire.
Sometimes we use a sort of “call and response” style of prayer. When this happens we use words on a screen, and leader reads out the first part, and then we join in with the next bit, altogether. Some people find this a really cool way to do prayer in community, and it really ups the game in terms of increased participation. It’s quite a good way to end up praying things in way more profound language that we sometimes have access to about things that really matter to us. For other people though, praying like this can seem a bit forced, maybe a bit religious. We understand that too. There is no need to repeat the words or to stand if at any point you feel uncomfortable. We try to have a variety of ways to pray.
Other times we have other ways of enjoying prayer, that might involve writing, drawing, craft work or moving around the room. The point is that we believe that in prayer we can speak to and engage with God, and that we can create space in our own lives for God to speak and heal and create life. That’s what we’re inviting you into throughout the service.
Our messages each week come from a passage in the Bible (also known as the Holy Scriptures in the Christian tradition). Usually someone will read out the passage of the Bible, and then the preacher (Tom is most likely to be on-hand for this) will give a 20-to-30 minute talk about what that passage means, how God might be challenging or inviting us through it and what practical things it might actually mean for our life today, in Aotearoa, NZ.
Sometimes people like to take notes at this point, maybe on their phones, in a journal, or maybe on paper that we provide. Sometimes people doodle, or do colouring or other things like that. We like to encourage this kind of active, thoughtful interaction with the Bible text and the ideas and thoughts coming out through the sermon.
We always include some space for a response of some kind to what has been said. The point of this is to ensure that everybody gets a chance to follow up for themselves whatever new hope, ideas, challenges, thoughts or convictions come to them. Sometimes this is in the form of discussion with your neighbour or in small groups. Sometimes it is in a responsive prayer activity. Other times it might be by choosing to take action in some way. Also, we always sing again at the end, and sometimes we just move straight into a time for music worship, and this can be a great way to process and enact some of outcomes from the preaching.