Three Things I’ve Learned from Eden Mennonite Church

Every time I visit another church–whether I’m there officially as part of a pulpit exchange or unofficially on vacation–I learn something new. Here are three things I’ve learned from Eden Mennonite Church as part of this year’s pulpit exchange:

(1) Like Emmanuel, Eden works with an annual worship theme (September-June), and they also link their theme with specific books of the Bible. So they preach through a book generally from September to Advent; then focus on Advent/Christmas and pick up with their book series again until Lent/Easter; then after Easter, they pick it up again until the end of June. This allows for continuity and focus on one book at a time in the context of the larger yearly theme, and allows for seasonal celebrations as well.  I plan to suggest this model to our Worship Committee for us to try in September.

(2) I was asked to meet in the Prayer Room with the Worship Team before the service, and I’m glad I arrived early so I could see that the Prayer Room (which also doubles as a Sunday school class room for youth) was FULL! “What’s your secret?” I asked, thinking about the sometimes 1 or 2 or 3 youth that take part in our youth Sunday school. What was drawing all of these youth to Sunday school? “Our kids really like one another–they want to be together,” I was told. “Parent support,” another adult said to me. I also noticed that the teacher for the youth class was not the youth/associate pastor,  that she had brought hot chocolate for the class, and seemed to relate very well to all the youth as they were leaving. I know our youth also enjoy one another and want to be together, but somehow that doesn’t translate to Sunday school in the same way. I’m still mulling over what we can learn here.

(3) At both Peace and Eden, the full worship order with all of the songs is not listed in the Sunday morning bulletin for everyone. Instead, those who are leading have the order, and the congregation simply follows them. That’s one way to save on paper and allows for planning later in the week after the bulletin deadline. We’ve tried it this way a few times too, particularly for evening communion services or on Christmas Day when we don’t have a printed bulletin, but for the most part, feedback we’ve received at Emmanuel is that people prefer seeing the full order for Sunday morning. What do you think?

Thank you, Eden, for your invitation and sharing together – I appreciate your hospitality!