First Community AME Church

Grand Rapids, Michigan

To reflect theologically on communal worship that incorporates prayer, praise, and servant leadership, in order to facilitate deeper participation and engagement with God in worship. 

 Provide a brief summary of the purpose and goal of your grant. 

We hope to implement a project that promotes inter-generational worship that incorporates song, scripture, sermon, and servant leadership, which will foster spiritual development and growth in the life of the believer, the church, and the community. We aim to create a worship atmosphere and sacred space for the reverence and holiness of God and where people can learn to revere and commune with God. 

 What are two questions that have generated reflection on worship and helped shape your project?

Our two questions for reflection revolve around our goals - prayer, praise and worship, scripture, and servant leadership at First Community AME Church:  

1) How do we continue to integrate our goals on a digital platform as long as we are not able to gather in person?  

2) How might each goal be incorporated effectively and intentionally to support a seamless coherent worship experience for all who enter the sanctuary? 

 What impact has your project had on the worship life and habits of the congregation? 

Through studying together and gaining a better understanding of worship, the Word of God, and prayer, the congregation has made progress in their connections between worship and life. The congregation has learned the difference between corporate and individual prayer and worship. We have gained a common understanding that allows us to speak a mutual language and unites us in faith. Members' understanding of spiritual leadership is evolving. 

 What have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

Due to COVID-19, our challenge has been moving from an in-person worship service to digital and conference call platforms where the majority of our church members are 65 years and older and are technologically challenged and the quality of the reception is not consistent from week to week. We have had to re-envision and adapt our service to address the attention spans of people who were participating via Zoom and conference calls. 

 What would you like to share with other Project Directors?

It is pertinent to have a marketing plan for rolling out the grant in order to gain buy-in from all stakeholders. Effectively communicate with the team and the congregation in a variety of ways. A project director needs to be able to be flexible and adaptable to the challenges that will arise. Identify skills in team members. Allocate a person or persons who are paid to do some of the work. Reach out to prior grantees for feedback and input. 

Learning Artifacts

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Prayer, Praise, Worship and Servant Leadership