Our Restore Communities gather for worship every Sunday at 10:30am at the YWCA in Alton (304 E 3rd St.).
Perhaps you’re asking, “What do you do?” To which we like to reply, “Snake handling and interpretive dance.” But since that’s not helpful, here’s the real answer. Our calling is incarnational mission, which means, “Go be Jesus to Alton.” The worship gathering equips us for our calling by forming us into Christ’s body and then sending us into the city to bless our neighbors.
So the first and most important answer to the question, “What do you do?” is this: “We let God work in us.”
Being formed into Christ’s body is not a human accomplishment, it is an act of God. What God does is most important, and our side of the work is participating in the activity of his Holy Spirit.
We are not just a community that takes the sacraments, we are a sacramental community. It’s not primarily about what we are doing, but what God is doing in and through us. We become a sacrament to our city, a visible sign of the invisible God. We are the body of Christ. We are the loaf of bread on the communion table. Like the communion bread, we are taken, blessed, broken, and given. Jesus brings us together, forms us in the gospel, unites us with his sacrifice, and sends us out as fresh bread for hungry souls.
Now, we get to be active participants, so there’s work for us to do. Here’s a look at what we do to participate in what God is doing:
Taken: We gather together in worship.
- Focus: Belonging to Jesus and to one another.
- Looks like: Singing and praying in one voice, greeting one another
Blessed: We listen to the word of God.
- Focus: Believing in Jesus.
Looks like: Testimony, scripture readings, sermon, creed, and thanksgiving
Broken: We share in the Lord’s table.
- Focus: Becoming like Jesus.
- Looks like: Prayer, communion, and worship.
Given: We scatter to bless our neighbors.
- Focus: Becoming Jesus to our city.
- Looks like: Commission, worship, and benediction.
Leading worship is a community effort, with Restore Communities rotating worship leading responsibilities. This entails coming early to setup and pray for the service, as well as leading prayer times, reading scripture, giving testimonies, and serving communion during the service.
We place a high value on children participating as much as possible in everything we do. But there is wisdom in not forcing a three year old to “sit” through a sermon. So we have everyone together during the singing at the beginning of the service, then at greeting time children younger than kindergarten-age go to an adjacent room. Those children come back in to take communion with us and be commissioned to go be good news.
Most of what we’ve mentioned is familiar, but here are some familiar things we don’t have:
- Announcements: Since Restore Communities are the main thing, the Alton Mission is limited to weekly worship gathering, quarterly service projects, and leader development. There isn’t anything to announce, except when we shut down the worship gathering to do a service project.
- Greeters or Ushers: There are no bulletins to hand out, for one. But since the worship gathering is not intended to be the place to attract new people, we expect that most new people will be coming with one of us. If other new people come, it is everyone’s responsibility to give them a gracious welcome.
- Offering: We have a box people can put their tithes and offerings in, but no “pass the plates” moment. This is somewhat related to having no ushers.