Q&A from RISE Night

RISE Night was one week ago and some really great questions were asked at the event. We thought it might be nice to put them up here on our blog so that those who couldn't attend or are curious about RISE could join in the fun.

Q. What if I'm not sure about my faith?

A. You are not alone. At RISE, we don't claim to know all the answers. Not even close. But we believe there is power (and fun!) in wrestling with the questions. Questioning and wrestling with God is healthy and biblical. Just look at Genesis 32: 22-26, Psalm 22 and the entire book of Job! Anyway, that's all to say that we're still figuring things out too. And there are days when we will wander and question and wrestle. And that's okay. It's healthy.

Q. What makes you different from every other church in Harrisonburg?

A. Well, for one, we're meeting in a bar... But seriously, we believe that many churches say one thing and do another. "We love you, but..." At RISE, we believe in a love with no strings attached. Everyone means everyone. And we want to share that with our community. Whatever stuff you bring, whatever baggage you carry, we carry it too. And God loves you anyway. And so do we.

We're also trying to listen first. We want to hear stories, and in hearing those stories, we believe we will hear God. We want to really live what we're saying. We want to be in our community - taking risks and living love. Sometimes love is messy. Sometime's it's really difficult. But it's so worth it.

Q. What affiliation does RISE have with the United Methodist Church?

A. RISE is a United Methodist Faith Community. That means we are rooted in the theology of the United Methodist Church (which, by the way is a theology that is accepting, open-armed, and grace-filled). Does that mean you have to be United Methodist to be a part of RISE? Absolutely not. RISE welcomes anyone and everyone. That is really, really important. Many in our faith community do not identify as United Methodists and some had never even been to church. And we like it that way! We're all on this journey together. We really hope that you'll check us out, and that you'll discover that RISE is the place for you. For more on the United Methodist Church, click here.

Q. Why is RISE meeting in a bar?

A. Ever been to a bar? It's a place where stories are shared, communities form, and people have a good time. It's a place of excitement and joy, but also a place full of pain and hurt. Bars are places of celebration and heartbreak. We think it seems like a perfect fit for community-building. But more than that, it seems like a perfect place for Jesus. Enter: RISE.

Q. Why are you starting RISE? Where did it come from?

A. The idea for RISE was born in late 2009 when a group of leaders from the now defunct JMU Wesley Foundation decided that things needed to change. The community (or lack thereof) had grown stale and had turned inward. We started to ask some hard questions. Who are we? Who are we called to be? What are we called to do? The answers we were forced to cough up didn't sit well with us. So we decided we needed to turn around and face the world. Our world. We saw pain and devastation and guilt and shame all around us and even in us. And so we decided to do something about it. We saw a need for honesty, grace, love and passion in our community and in our world. We saw a need for the unconditional love of Jesus. And that's why RISE exists. So that our friends in the community and around the world will share in the love that binds us as children of God. No matter what.

Q. What time is the service going to be? What if I'm late? What should I wear?

A. Whoa, slow down! Weekly worship will be every Sunday morning at exactly 10(ish) in the basement of the Blue Nile. If you're late, it's okay. Seriously. (It's just that all the donuts may be gone... Just sayin'.) And wear what you want. Your pajamas, your wedding dress, and everything in between.

Q. How can I meet people at RISE?

A. Well, we think "Hi" is a great place to start! Stop by the RISE Mission House (690 S. Mason Street) and say hello. Call the phone number (540-324-3241) or email us (riseharrisonburg@gmail.com). Find us on Facebook and Twitter. Or just come to worship or outreach events (or anything else you see discussed on our Facebook and Twitter feeds!) We really want to meet you. In fact, here's a secret: This isn't for us. RISE is for those we haven't even met yet. Is that you?

Q. How interactive and "hands-on" will worship be?

A. Worship will look different from week to week - some weeks in big ways and others in not-so-big ways. There may be activities or take-aways or small group discussions... anything that enhances our connection to each other and to God in worship. We'll have music, sharing, a time to learn, to think, to struggle, to connect. We also want people to feel like they are truly a part of worship - not just watching a show.