REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Just a little after 6 on Sunday nights the sounds of praise music can be heard in the halls at Bicentennial Chapel, calling adults, teens and children from classrooms to join in a celebratory, reflective and heart-touching worship service focused on helping them build a special connection with God.

"The Bridge at Redstone" is a new service offering at Bicentennial Chapel begun last fall to reach out to those who are looking for a casual worship experience. Its music - led by worship pastor

Andy Good on guitar - and its message - offered by either Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Marvin Luckie of the Garrison or Chaplain (Capt.) Jonathan Fisher of the 832nd Ordnance Battalion -- are contemporary in nature, reaching out to those who are looking for an alternative to traditional church services.

"This is the type of service that appeals to a lot of people," Luckie said. "It's modern. It's relevant. It's forward thinking. The music and message help us to reflect on our journey and celebrate our journey of faith.

"We are focused on families, single Soldiers, teenagers and kids. Our vision for Sunday night is to provide them with a sense of community and a place where they can find their own bridge to God."

The evening begins at 5 p.m. with fellowship over a meal. It continues at 5:30 with a small group Bible study program based on the evening's message. The worship service begins at 6:15 in the chapel.

"We want to provide a time when people can come together, and develop a community and relationships with each other," Luckie said. "That sense of community is built around a meal.

Then, relationships are made during open and honest discussion in our small groups. It all comes together during the worship."

Sunday night topics revolve around building a deeper faith and walk with God. The theme for each week's worship sermon is used in the small group discussions.

"Our discussions are about our faith and how our faith impacts our actions," Fisher said. "Our small groups coordinate with what we are doing in the worship. We use age-appropriate materials with the different groups in teaching how to walk with God and how to talk with God. It's all intertwined and meant to encourage open thought and involvement. It's a very participatory service."

For The Bridges' young audience - the elementary-age children - hands-on activities, art projects, songs and games are used to help them understand the concepts of Christianity, said Scott Shuffler, who volunteers to work with the children with his wife, Kimberly, and who is employed as director of Youth Services.

"We find ways to add value to the overall experience for the children. We find ways they can express the truth that is being presented that evening," Shuffler said. "We want to make them feel like the evening is for them as well as for the adults."

Shuffler holds a degree in Christian education and his wife has a degree in psychology. Both have the resources and experience to plan Bible student programs each week for the children.

"We want to provide a quality program for the kids," Shuffler said. "We spend time sharing things they want us to pray about. Everyone gets their time as the center of attention and that's important when you are connecting with these children."

Also getting their time within their own Bible study group are the teens who attend The Bridge, which is part of the chapel's overall youth program that also includes Tuesday and Thursday night Bible studies along with other special activities.

"As we teach the Bible to the youth, we want it to become real and applicable to their lives. The Bridge helps us with that," said youth pastor Darrell Good, who is assisted in the ministry by his wife, Cheryl.

"Our weekly programs are a platform that leads to The Bridge on Sunday nights. It's very important to help these kids develop good friendships that will follow them through life and develop a closer relationship with God so that they feel His presence in their lives."

Coordinating the small group discussions with the sermon theme is essential to creating an experience that worshippers can respond to on a personal level.

"We want everyone talking about the same thing in the small groups. We want everyone going in the same direction and focused in the same way so that the worship service carries a deeper meaning for them," Luckie said.

Although The Bridge is a new offering on the Arsenal, contemporary worship services have been offered by many local churches for several years. While the contemporary nature of The Bridge is appealing to all age groups, Luckie said it especially connects with youth.

"We still offer our traditional church services on Sunday mornings," Luckie said. "But this service is meaningful to those who want to know how to have a conversation with God. It is meaningful to people who are asking 'What is it about this journey call discipleship that is important for me to grow spiritually''

"It's about everyday living with God and discipleship with God. It's about becoming a better person, and growing and maturing in your faith."

Contemporary services appeal to youth because of the upbeat music and dynamic message. At The Bridge, much of worship is spent in song, using music from today's popular contemporary Christian musicians and projecting the words of the songs on a large screen so that worshippers can sing along.

"The music really resonates with them personally in this generation," Andy Good said. "Just like with hymns written in the style of long ago, it resonates and connects the truth to them in a new and interesting way. We are having to think of new and creative ways to get the word out to people and to strengthen the community of Christians."

On a recent Sunday night, worshipers talked about leadership, and the healthy and unhealthy characteristics of leadership in their small groups, based on Luke 11:42-54. During worship, Fisher added his favorite Biblical passage -- Psalm 73 - to the sermon, in which he talked about how a crisis within his family forced him to assume the yolk of leadership at a young age, and how the crisis caused him to question his own faith in God.

"We're all on our journey of faith," Fisher said. "We are learning together and gleaning together, and leaning on each other as we join together. Together we have the strength and courage to commit even more to the things of God."

With a worship service that encourages participation and expression, Luckie said it is hoped The Bridge touches worshippers in many ways.

"We want to engage the mind, body and emotion, and have a communion with God in a way that helps us answer the question 'How does our faith meet today's walk of life''" Luckie said.

During prayer time at a recent Bridge worship service, Pvt. John Gallagher, who is in training at Redstone Arsenal, thanked the worship team for offering the contemporary service.

"It's great to have an uplifting group like this to keep our hearts with God," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16