’07-’08 felt like a big step forward for us. We increased the frequency from once-a-month to once-a-week, moved from a 2000 seat venue to a 200 seat venue more appropriate for our size, and added groups and serving to the MERGE experience.
However, we made some huge shifts at GCC going into the fall of 2008, and that had an effect on MERGE. Specifically, we canceled our Thursday night New Community service and launched new Wednesday night bible classes and a 1st Wednesday worship experience. Because it’s so important to us that MERGE remain integrated with the life of GCC, those church-wide shifts meant changes for MERGE.
We don’t want to offer at MERGE what you can get elsewhere in the life of our church. I don’t want anyone making the choice between being a part of MERGE or being a part of GCC. So, with the new bible classes and worship experience being offered church-wide, we decided to get rid of regular teaching and worship in our college age program.
In addition to honoring our value of not allowing MERGE to be redundant with other GCC programs, this change tapped into an insight we had gained in the previous year: the best connecting happens when we’re active. The difference between connecting to strangers over coffee with discussion questions and connecting to strangers while painting a wall, serving food to the hungry, driving around town for a video scavenger hunt, or competing in a pumpkin carving and seed spitting contest is huge. And we wanted 18-25 year olds to attend the Wednesday night Bible classes, so we scheduled all of this activity for Wednesday nights, right after those classes end. That’s where we’ve been living this school year. Next time, I’ll give you a fuller description of what we’ve been up to this year and how it’s working.