DNA of our Corporate Gatherings
The church is not a building or a service, it’s a people. We gather on Sunday mornings for a worship service as the “Church Gathered” then we all go back to where we live, work and play as the “Church Scattered.”
Our Sunday morning corporate worship is designed to allow our church family to be tangibly present with one another. As the people of God have done for centuries, we sing songs together, pray together, teach the Bible, proclaim the gospel and practice baptism regularly and communion weekly.
We love the challenge of creating worship services for such a diverse body, but it is a challenge. I often tell those new to Fellowship Memphis if there was ever a Sunday when I felt like the songs sung were my absolute favorites and were the songs that need to be sung, the guy preaching looks and sounds just like I think a preacher needs to look and sound, the cadence was “real preaching,” the length of the sermon and the length of the service were what I preferred and perfect…we finally nailed John Bryson Sunday…then we’d have failed miserably. Fellowship Memphis is not designed exclusively for my age white guys.
Since we started we have been building a church that none of us have ever been a part of. It’s not too difficult to understand why the vast majority of churches are mono-racial, mono-cultural and not very diverse when it comes to age ranges in the church. It usually has to do with a narrowly selected type of music and preaching to cater, intentionally or unintentionally, to a certain type of person. Sadly, most churches won’t push much into preference and most people settle into a church based on preference (usually based simply on what you’ve known).
We have seen this happen with worship music in churches. For those who like songs written 200 years ago, come at 9 am. For those who like songs written 200 days ago, come at 11 am. We simply think good songs are good songs and want to sing to God about God regardless of when the song was written and how it’s arranged.
I love that our multi-ethnic body also gives us a sanctification tool that digs wonderfully into the preference temptation in each of us as we go. Our desire for a multi-ethnic body gave us the gift of going to war with both consumeristic thinking and preference-based decisions.
We also call that a “Theology of Discomfort” that we embrace. By design, we are saying that the beauty of a multi-ethnic and intergenerational church experience far outweighs our individual temptation toward known, predictable and comfortable.
We want to see a growing number of the best practices from all cultures and backgrounds shape what we experience. We want to build a new normal into each of us and hope you enjoy that journey!
Hebrews 10:25 says, “do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
This is a strong exhortation for us to prioritize our presence with our local church. Though technology allows for churches to communicate through various means and allows for sermons to be captured on video and made available, we in no way believe there are any substitutions for physical presence. Jesus, Himself, incarnated. He took on flesh. We believe something unique happens within the Body of Christ when we gather to worship and serve one another.
Kids are always welcome in the service but we have Fellowship Kids Ministry for babies through 5th grade. Our policy and procedures are available, along with our leadership team, for anyone interested in our goal to have a great, safe, clean place for our kids to connect and learn. We also regularly need people joining and participating on serve teams to help us pull off Sunday services.
We make room for an offering each week to remind us that God has provided all things for us and that we all as a family share the financial responsibility of our church. The offering can be taken physically in the baskets that are passed or online. Automating your giving is super-helpful for us.
We value pre-service and post-service fellowship times and think it’s important for our body to continue building relationships. You are always encouraged to come early and mingle late to prioritize relationships with others.
Also, we regularly look for opportunities for all of our Outposts to gather together. We have done that at Levitt Shell, The Orpheum, and the Cannon Center. Also, historically, we are regularly changing service times, going from one service to two, and launching new outposts from existing ones. We value the flexibility of us all.
We practice the New Testament sacraments of communion (weekly) and baptism (regularly).
We know that transition into a new church can be hard. We hope you experience grace, patience, and kindness from us as you are learning Fellowship Memphis. I’d encourage you to be patient and gracious as well. In my experience with new starts in a new church, even making all the right moves, it can take 6 months to a year for FM to really feel like home.
Do not hesitate to ask any of us questions that may arise. We are excited that God may be leading you to join our family on mission!