Worship 2.0: services go next generation
January 28, 2010
It might not make sense to a mathematician, but the Fort McPherson chaplaincy is adding through subtraction. With the ChapelNext program, the chaplaincy hopes to add a contemporary worship experience by subtracting some previous traditions.
The program, while new to Fort McPherson, is not new to the Army, said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Robert Phillips, U.S. Army Garrison chaplain.
The program is designed to be causal, encouraging and relevant with the goal of catering to the younger generation, said Chap. (Capt.) Brad Godding, deputy garrison chaplain.
Phillips said reaching out to the youth is important because statistics show people between the ages of 19 to 28 see church as irrelevant and too steeped in tradition. The relevance of these statistics was revealed on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem after observing those attending services, Godding said.
"We looked across the chaplain community and it wasn't representative of the entire community. The majority of the parishioners were older or retirees," he said. "It is important to offer something the younger generation can relate to and be a part of and support themselves."
"We're trying to meet needs of a younger generation," Phillips added, explaining how the chaplaincy ministers to all of the community. "We're going to be more creative, change things up."
One way ChapelNext aims to broaden its reach is through the incorporation of more technology.
The service will employ video clips and other multimedia presentations, Godding said. Music will be energetic, upbeat and more contemporary.
The atmosphere, where people are encouraged to come as they are, will also be more casual, said Phillips.
Although the first service will take place in the Fort McPherson Post Chapel, the possibility of future services outside the chapel is being considered.
Sermons will also be different, being more interactive and allowing for discussion among the congregation, Phillips said. Such discussion will allow people to give their own testimonies.
"Testimonies preach louder (than sermons)," Phillips said. "We want more people to get involved."
Such involvement is intended to create energy in the community and build relationships and bonds with others in the congregation.
"Relationships are important; a lot of the time (in church) you don't even know the people around you," Phillips said. The differences are not just limited to the way the worships will be run.
Even the starting time, 9:19 a.m., is designed to make an impact. "It (9:19 a.m.) stands out; people remember it," Phillips said. "It breaks the convention. Let's just be different."
Not everything will be different about ChapelNext, however.
Like other worship services, the service will be designed to help bolster an individual's spiritual nature, giving them the spiritual boost to make dealing with life's difficulties easier.
"These are tough days for Soldiers and Army Families. (There's) higher stress, suicides and domestic violence cases. We'll try to equip them to deal with life's problems more effectively," Phillips said. "We'll put tools in their tool bag to make them a better person."
Phillips said he hopes to deliver the first of such tools by pasturing his series of sermons called "Answering Life's Most Important Questions," which focuses on Jesus' interactions with people in the gospel of Mark.
"Sermons will address real-life issues, like parenting, marriage, faith, finances and deployments," he said. "Together, we will explore what the Bible has to say about these very important topics and find some tools to better equip us as we face life's challenges."
Although aimed at the younger generation and for those with needs not met by current services, all are invited to attend, Phillips said.
Those comfortable with current services do not need to worry, as they won't change, he added. Children's programs and child overwatch will be provided during the ChapelNext service. Attendees can come as they are and are encouraged to bring a friend.
"I think it will be a great service for anyone without a place to worship," Godding said. "I encourage you to check it out."