“Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”
— John Wesley
If you really could catch on fire with enthusiasm, Rev. Lance Marshall would burst into flames. And if people came for miles to watch the fire at First 7th, even more will come to watch a much brighter blaze at The Gathering.
This Sunday morning offering is nothing like a typical worship or Sunday School experience. It’s new, it’s different — and the excitement around it is spreading like wildfire. The Gathering will offer a unique format that is part study, part sharing, part discussion, and all about inspiration — packaged in an upbeat, tech-savvy atmosphere of community.
As Lance puts it, you will be in the proximity of enthusiasm. “The gospel is contagious,” he exclaims. “People are attracted to Christ because of the hope, reconciliation, purpose, and joy that is being offered, and this is another place for people to experience that.” Lance summarizes The Gathering as a casual, comfortable chance to be informed, inspired, and intrigued as you connect with him and with each other.
If you have ever been to First 7th or heard Lance preach elsewhere, you probably already know that his way of leading a community and speaking is different. Lance describes it as much more interactive and simple — never technical but always something that could happen around a dinner table. That’s why The Gathering will be in the newly renovated and updated Room 350. This setting will be casual, so you can come as you are. Plus, the setup in this space will make it easy to move around and connect with Lance and others one-on-one. “I love the principal of starting with a blank slate,” Lance adds. “We will get to do a lot of blue-sky thinking.”
Lance says his favorite thing is when you start pulling together answers from a group and put them up on a white board so everyone can participate in the creation of what is happening. From a creative standpoint, this allows him to play with the “improv of info” sent out by the group. “It’s like skiing down a track and all of the sudden you have to pick up additional elements to bring with you,” Lance explains. “You still land where you land, but now you get there as a group.” He feels like sometimes he learns from the community as much as they do from his teaching, and that’s what really excites him.
Another favorite? Grabbing a cup of coffee with someone to hear their story. “I want to learn about your life, dreams, hopes, and struggles,” Lance declares. “This is a chance to have that connection.” He says his goal is to create a new spot for people who may not have already connected with existing opportunities in our church, and to let new people experience what makes this church so special.
Lance plans to focus on exciting new ways to find means of grace at The Gathering. “I will get to experiment on a personal level with selecting messaging and teaching in ways that wouldn’t work within a traditional worship service,” he adds. For instance, the first discussion will center around photography and how it parallels spiritual principles — and life itself. The Gathering will use dynamic visuals and multimedia to explore a variety of topics each week. Rather than checking technology at the door, the group will communicate through technology and social media during the service and throughout the week. That way, the group can take notes and connect with each other in the ways most comfortable to them.
Music will also be an important part of the experience, although not through the typical live band or community singing. “When we start and center ourselves, we will come into the kingdom of music through powerful recordings from all over,” Lance announces. “This gives us opportunities to have greater exposure to the wide world of amazing worship music. You will discover great new musicians and songs each week.”
Lance says he feels like The Gathering is one of many avenues we offer at FUMCFW to experience God’s grace. According to him, a lot of times when people are engaged in an interactive discussion with a purpose, that is when the most meaningful conversations in life happen. “It’s like a radio channel that, when tuned to it, you are more clearly able to experience the grace of God,” he explains. “There’s so much creativity in the Holy Spirit, and there are so many opportunities to do something different.”
Ready to get fired up? Starting on February 14, head to Room 350 on Sunday mornings from 9:30 – 10:30 am to join The Gathering. Lance guarantees you will laugh out loud, learn something new, and be connected to God — and he hopes you will experience grace that lights up your heart from the inside out.