About this time last year, we were a community approaching 120 adults, knowing that before too long our space in NW Portland simply wouldn’t hold us all, particularly our kids.
The problem? We were out of Pubs in which to meet. We had started in SW, moved to SE, and then to NW as we outgrew each space in turn. So we prayed, discussed, dreamed and planned... and started the Hawthorne gathering, back in the second pub in which we had met, dividing the community into two worship gatherings, each with a primary teaching elder, but having the whole elder team/teaching team rotate between both spaces.
We had some concerns- how would it work? Would we really be able to be one community in two locations? Would people step up and help do the work of the community that needed to be done?
And so, here we are again- same time of year, same questions. About 190 adults and more kids (especially at Quimby) than we know what to do with. In addition, because of the hospitality and hard work of everyone at Hawthorne/the SE Gathering, not to mention its central location and smaller-than-the NW/Quimby meeting space, Hawthorne is filling up and is already at 80% capacity, that number at which things begin to get uncomfortable for folks.
We gathered a few weeks ago to pray and listen, and to think specifically about the idea of a 3rd gathering. We’ve continued to pray and we’ve continued to listen, to God and to the other people in our community, and the elders are feeling as though, as another step on the road to preparing our community for sustainable church planting, we’re ready to move ahead with a third gathering.
We’re looking at and checking out a number of spaces, but so far, the church space we've met in for our prayer gatherings/Ash Wednesday gatherings and the occasional Christmas Eve is really appealing on a number of fronts, not least of which to the folks working with Children’s ministry who love the large, clean, dedicated space with multiple rooms as well as a large common area to work with, teach, and play with our kids.
The opportunity to have a gathering in a different kind of space, at a time other than 10am Sunday morning is exciting- and scary. Once again, the same questions: How will it work? Will we really be able to be one community in three locations? How will it change the dynamic of our community to have a worship gathering in a non-pub space? In (potentially) a CHURCH space??? Will people step up and help do the work of the community that needs to be done?
We have an opportunity to “test drive” a Sunday evening gathering coming up. Every year, we get bumped from the Lab for the Worst Day and Best Day of the year rides. This year the Worst Day of the Year Ride is on Sunday, Feb 15th. Here’s what we’re thinking- we’ll cancel both Sunday morning gatherings (sleep in! Have breakfast with friends! Do a service project somewhere) and gather as one community that evening for a combined worship and baptism gathering.
Lots to think about and lots to pray about. I had trouble sleeping last night. I have a feeling it won't be the last restless night for awhile...