What a week! During the days leading up to us opening our new sanctuary and returning our fragmented congregation back to one building (for the last 18 months, part of our church has been meeting in a neighboring funeral home, the student ministry has been meeting in a neighboring school, and the other part has been meeting in our gym) we spent a solid week dedicating our new space. For seven days, 24 hours a day, different members of our church spent an hour at a time reading through scripture and praying in our new building. Our goal was to get through the whole Bible at least once.
The middle school group took part last Wednesday night. It was beautiful; we spent about half an hour walking through the building while students prayed for different parts. We prayed over our new fellowship hall, for the classes that will meet in it and the teachers who will teach them. We prayed for the new Gathering Space (our foyer) and all those who will enter our church through those doors. And, of course, we prayed for the new sanctuary. The choir happened to be praying in there at that time so we held hands and circled around them while different 6th-8th grade students prayed out loud for them, for their voices, for their ministry in this new space, for our worship pastor, for the musicians, for the instruments. It was beautiful. By the time we left I noticed several adults moved to tears.
On Friday night, the senior high students took a turn … a ten hour turn. There were just over 20 of us that showed up – I was amazed! We took the last ten hours of the week, from 9pm until 7am. It was incredible. We probably spent, over the course of the night, four of the hours all together in the sanctuary. The teens had had some great ideas for the night; we had a distraction box at the door to leave all of our distractions (cell phones, ipods, etc.). Kids even wrote down distractions they were thinking about and left those in the box as well. We left our shoes at the door to symbolize our desire for this to be a holy experience, a place dedicated to God. We went through a ton of post-it notes as well; one of the students had had the idea of ‘post it prayers.’ Basically, we would write down what we prayed and leave it where we prayed. By the end of the night, every pew, every seat, every wall, every door, the projectors, the fire alarms, the organ, piano, baptismal tank, all of the electronics in the sound booth, the floor, the music stands … they all had post it notes on them. Teens prayed over every inch of that room, every seat, for every person that will ever come in there. Absolutely incredible. Another student had thought of prayer boards; we had several black boards and silver sharpies to write prayers on them as well. One for the church, one for our senior pastor and one for our worship pastor. A couple of the students led us in worship songs with their guitars – I’d like to think the students were the first to have a worship service in there, but I might be wrong!
And we read scripture. Out loud, for hours and hours. When we arrived, the Bible was on its second time through – the church had done more than we expected or hoped! We were hoping to be able to finish it a second time that night – and we did, somewhere around 6:30am. We read the last few verses out loud together – it was a beautiful moment!