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What to expect this fall
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Last week I ran through what to expect for our first in-person worship service. I don’t know about you, but I think it went pretty well! The excitement level was at an all-time high, I’m sure. What a great start to our life together as a church, for those who were able to join us in person. And for those who joined online, you got a glimpse of what to expect when you are able to come in person!
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This week, I want to talk briefly about the rest of the summer and then more about the fall.
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Summer
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One thing to be aware of is that Kids’ Church will be more streamlined in the summer, as it often is. We won’t have nearly as many age-specific classes, and therefore less need for volunteers. However, that will change in the fall, so be prayerfully discerning if this is an area God is calling you to serve in. The formation of our kids in the image of Christ is only one of the most important things we can contribute to! 
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As for the nursery, we will have it as parent-led/attended through the summer. This means parents of young children (2 and under) will be in the nursery with their kids. Of course, if a parent offers to take care of your child, you’re free to come back to the service if you want! We will have a TV screen with the service streamed into the nursery so you don’t miss anything. We aim to have a team of volunteers ready to go for the fall, so if you’re interested in that, please let Tati know (tati@bridgenorthvan.ca)! Did I mention how important it is to help children experience the love of Jesus even from young ages?
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Through the summer, you can also expect to see some guest preachers and guest worship leaders as some of our staff take vacation. People will be in and out, we know that many will still opt for the live-stream. Our hope is that once September comes, God willing, we’ll really be able to take off. And here are two things in particular that I want to tell you about.
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Fall
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Sunday Evening Service
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The story of the Sunday evening service is one that I see God’s hand in through and through. It first came up at our leadership retreat in late May as an idea to serve those who can’t make it on Sunday mornings, and especially as something that could draw in more young adult/university aged people. The whole board jumped on this idea. In the following days, I mentioned it to some staff, particularly Nate, who felt that this was exactly what he had been dreaming of and was so excited by the thought. Nate then had conversations with some young adults and teens about what this service might look like. It turns out that for some of them, God had been laying the exact idea on their hearts as well. There are even a few of them who have experienced a calling to lead worship and weren’t sure what form that would take, until this idea came up.
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So what will it look like? We’re still working out the details, but a few things that have been clear so far:
-the service is open to all. It is not a “youth service” or a “young adult service”. It is a Bridge Church service, and everyone is welcome. However, the leadership and vision for the service will be driven primarily by youth and young adults. The teaching will be more evenly spread between myself, Nate, and others.
-we want this to be a kind of “lab” where people can grow in their gifts for service in the Kingdom. We want to cultivate a culture of stepping out in faith and doing things you maybe haven’t done before, including preaching or leading worship, but beyond that as well
-there will be emphasis on creating space for worshipping God. This will likely be reflected in the approach to worship, including more time for prayer or for spontaneous praise. There will be less structure than on Sunday evenings (not no structure, just less structure). There will be an emphasis on giving space for the Holy Spirit to lead us 
-in aid of some of those goals, and recognizing that our initial gathering will be smaller than on Sundays, we will likely be using the upper floor atrium as our space- a little less intimidating, a bit more intimate, a bit more freedom to move around, and a better setting for a small worship team
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None of this is a repudiation of what we do on Sunday mornings, which is so good in so many ways. And nothing changes about the vision of our church: both gatherings are all about knowing Jesus Christ personally and to make him known. Rather, it’s a recognition that a different approach, at a different time, may draw in people and communicate the Gospel to them in a way they might not receive on Sunday mornings. Again, we have seen God’s hand in this and are excited about how many people have already expressed their desire to participate!
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The plan is to launch this service by late September, likely starting at 6:30pm or so. If you’d like to be part of the launch team, let Craig or Nate know!
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Discipleship groups
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Here’s another God-led initiative I’ve seen. Late last year, a couple of men approached me about getting a lot more intentional about their growth in Jesus. For the last year or two, I had been thinking about our discipleship structure as a church and had come across a book called “Discipleship Essentials” by Greg Ogden. It’s a book that walks through the core aspects of Christian faith- 25 sessions in all. It’s designed to be done in very small groups of 3 or 4 people, maximum. The idea is high accountability, high commitment. There’s “homework” involved, including memorizing verses of Scripture. There’s no requirement of previous knowledge- one of our guys is a brand new Christian. But there is definitely a requirement on a commitment to grow.
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Over the last half year, our group of 4 has met together every two weeks. It has been so good. We’ll be shooting a promotional video to show you in the fall, but these guys have said it has been transformative in their relationship with Jesus and has significantly equipped them to follow him. I’ve long been a fan of community groups, as you know. I still think there’s an important place for them. But I now see that getting smaller and raising the bar results in a greater degree of fruitfulness for those who are willing.
What this amounts to is a three-pronged approach to discipleship in our church. On one level, we’ve had low-barrier, easy access groups that anyone, regardless of faith convictions, can participate in. Things like men’s outdoor workout, “On Board” (paddling and kayaking) and a mountain biking group have all emerged since COVID as ways for people to connect and invite others. On the next level, we have community groups that gather to read the Bible and pray together in homes or other space. Again, I still believe community groups are essential and can be a great step for many people. But in the fall, we want to create space for this third “level” of small discipleship groups, for those wanting a higher degree of commitment and accountability. Pray, even now, if this is something God is calling you to!
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That’s it for now, Bridge Church. We are filled with hope regarding what God wants to do in and through our church in this coming season!