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Inviting the Holy Spirit to church

Inviting the Holy Spirit to church

Inviting the Holy Spirit to church

8 May 2019

Ryde Corps leader Greig Whittaker says the Sunday meetings now allow for a more organic time of discipleship and intimate connection with the Holy Spirit.

By Lauren Martin

A Salvation Army corps in Sydney has ‘shaken up’ its Sunday meeting to allow unhurried time with the Holy Spirit.

Salvos at Ryde Corps in Sydney’s north-west wanted to create a gathering of believers that was less about listening to a sermon and more about developing an intimate relationship with the Spirit and being equipped for mission.

Corps leaders Greig and Amanda Whittaker said the changes came out of a corporate examination of their regular Sunday meeting.

“We felt very challenged that in the new covenant the Holy Spirit has been given to us to lead us and guide us into all truths and we felt like we were not enabling our people to know how to allow the Spirit to guide them because, quite frankly, the preachers took the stage more than the Spirit took the stage,” said Greig.

“So, we felt like we were [unintentionally] moving more into a priestly model where the leadership were the ones that had the truth and the congregation needed to listen to the leadership – as opposed to leadership being the pointers for them to listen to the Holy Spirit.”

Greig said that revelation led to a dramatic shake-up of the Sunday format. Now, when Salvos arrive on Sunday afternoon, rather than sit in a pew for an hour or two, the first hour of the meeting is dedicated to small groups sitting around tables. People can choose to attend the ‘Prayer’ group, the ‘New Life’ group or the ‘Journaling’ group.

“In those three groups we start with some simple questions about life,” said Greig, “so that we can share life at a deeper level than we were just over coffee. We then bring some scripture to the table, or prayer to the table, we then share life in that context with one another and then individuals pray for one another.”

Now, just 40 minutes into each meeting, those attending are discipling one another, being accountable to one another, learning how to read and interpret scripture, pray with and for one another and introducing Jesus into regular conversations about life.

“In the second hour, without watching the clock too much, we do a 20-20-20 split,” said Greig. “We do a 20-minute worship together, we then have a 20-minute shared teaching time and then we spend 20 minutes in the presence of God allowing the Spirit to be our teacher and engaging with him in that space.”

That last 20 minutes in the presence of God is sometimes completely silent. Sometimes the worship band plays. Some people are on their knees in prayer, some lie down, others sit at a table writing in their journal, others pray with each other.

“At the moment it’s like God is trying to teach us how to ‘unhurry’ ourselves so we try to help our people put aside the things that are in their mind that can be distracting. It’s actually been a very beautiful space,” said Greig.

“We wanted what we did on Sunday to be transferrable to our Monday to Saturday. We had people wanting a different format of learning rather than just a preacher/lecture format. This format has really created a conversational space where we can share scripture and the journey of life together.”

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Sounds great. For the last three or four years of our nine year appointment ( Manningham Corps) , we had our Sunday mornings , fortnightly called OMG where we reclaimed the phrase ‘Oh MY God’ and celebrated God in our gatherings... only an opening and closing worship song, beginning with the scripture of the day, in an interactive reading of it which underlined themes, actions, or involved some other intriguing treatment of it, then followed by small discussion groups guided by a facilitator in each group, and a guide sheet hung on the ‘4 Cs’... CONNECT, CONSIDER, CONTEXT, CONSEQUENCE... The CONSEQUENCE section was really a summary of the sermon or message, which we came together again for.... All the while children are attacking the theme with craft and games expressing the same learning outcomes ... They are guided by children + families team members. All join together for a community lunch afterwards. We found it a very creative way to hone the discussion, thinking and learning... ( In 2019, we have new chaplaincy appointments )

  2. Leslie Westwood
    Leslie Westwood

    Really interested in this

  3. David /Fiona Muncaster
    David /Fiona Muncaster

    Sounz amazing,wow would love to see this happening in our Corps here in New Zealand🌺🌺❤️❤️

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