Well here goes… The Dock has been described as the church with no congregation, no building and no money. Nothing daunted, I’m going to suggest that we just go right ahead and do church anyway. And this is my idea:
Last Sunday we held the second Dock Prayer Walk in blazing sunshine in the midst of the Titanic Maritime Heritage Weekend. This meant that we got to pray (for a boat) on a boat, pray for vision in the midst of the Drawing Offices (where the vision for Titanic, Olympic and Britannic took shape)… using the surroundings and environment of the TQ to inspire and inform our prayers. I absolutely loved it – and big thanks to the faithful fellow prayer walkers (pictured right)…
So I got to thinking – if the experience of being out in the open air – walking, chatting, meeting great people, taking in the sights and sounds of the Titanic Quarter – can transform a prayer meeting – why not apply the same experience to a ‘church service’? In other words, would it be possible to incorporate worship, teaching, prayer, inspiration, silence, fellowship – all the things we look for in an hour on a Sunday – into a walk, from one cup of coffee to another, through the TQ? Obviously, some of those things are going to look very different on a walk than they do in a church building; for example, rather than singing hymns, my idea is to listen to some worship music while looking out to sea and reflecting on God’s majesty. For teaching, you won’t be subjected to a full sermon, but we will listen to some Bible passages and reflections – and then maybe chat about our reactions to them as we walk along.
And credit where it’s due: for the genesis of the idea, can I introduce you to Rick, Sally and Tammy; they are the fine team of people who make your panini at the Pump House Cafe. A few weeks ago, Sally introduced me to a friend as “Chris, the minister of the Walking Church”… I hadn’t ever used that phrase to describe myself and I’m really interested (and flattered!) that her observations of me wandering around, chatting to people and sharing lots of cups of coffee merited the title ‘Minister of the Walking Church’! And the more I reflected on the title and the idea behind it, I thought ‘Why not?’
I should emphasise that this is a complete experiment. I don’t know exactly what it will look like and I’m very happy to adapt and react week-by-week as we discover what works and what doesn’t. But I have to say that I’m really excited by the concept, I’m really looking forward to giving it a go, and I’m really grateful that I get the chance to try these mad ideas…
So that’s the idea (or the germ of it anyway) – and it is called…. THE DOCK WALK
The details are:
When: every Sunday in June at 3:33pm (easy to remember!)
Where: meet at The Streat in the Odyssey to start with coffee
Who: anyone and everyone who is willing to try something a bit experimental
Why: because God is worthy of worship – even when we don’t have an organ and choir. (or, indeed, pretty much anything).
What else?: I promise that: (1) you will not be made to sing (2) you will not be made to pray aloud or put on the spot (3) it will be relaxed and informal – I won’t be yammering away at you every second that we’re walking, but (4) it will intentionally be an attempt to ‘do church’ – whatever that might mean! – to explore, praise and encounter God as we walk along.
So there you go! That actually means that, for the first time ever, there are TWO Dock events this weekend (I know! phew!) On Saturday at 12pm we’re meeting in The Streat in the Odyssey for Dock Book Group – looking this month at Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution, but open to anyone who is interested in this ongoing conversation of what is church? And then on Sunday at 3:33 we’ll maybe get to put some of our ideas into action as Walking Church hits the streets for the first time…