When you come to our Sunday meeting it’s probably (hopefully) going to feel new to you. Either because going to a church meeting has never been your thing, or because Circle of Hope is different from many of the churches people grew up in. But hopefully it’s new for everyone there because God is doing something new in the meeting and in the lives of people who are there. I’m not sure if there has ever been a Sunday meeting that was ever the same in all of Circle of Hope’s history because I am fairly certain there was never a Sunday meeting attended by exactly the same people. There’s always a new constellation of people. New folks are showing up all the time and new configurations of regulars are always shaping up. Thankfully our meetings are far from static.
To embrace that constant newness our Sunday meeting team leaders often like to do something new for everybody. When we do something new together we make a common experience that makes us all “in.” If our Sunday meetings have any singular purpose it is to help people feel “in.” We do this because everyone is “in” with God. God went to great lengths to be with us and demonstrate love for us. From creation, through the story of Israel, to the cross and resurrection, and up to the present moment through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is with us. God is determined to be “in” with us. This is an old thought but might sound new. You might have heard that you had to consider yourself “in” with God before God would accept you. Having that sense of belonging feels great, but whether you accept God or not, God accepts you. Saying “yes” to God’s original “yes” is all we do when we decide to follow Jesus.
So we celebrate that belonging by making something new together in our Sunday meetings. One of the best and most prolific ways we do that is writing new worship songs. We write A LOT of new worship songs. You won’t hear too many of the songs they play on K-LOVE (though we aren’t opposed to pulling out the best ones we hear). It won’t be all old hymns either (but we are part of the Transhistorical Body of Christ and love to join the ancestors with the classics too). You will hear a lot of original worship music that our artist friends write for us to use all the time.
We keep all of our songs in a growing master list that all of our worship leaders use each week to design our meetings. I went through and counted today and there are 266 songs that someone in Circle of Hope wrote! I don’t think they all made it onto our list either, so there are probably even more. We have written some amazing songs. I have committed at least 50 of them to memory over the years. But, honestly some of them are not universally useful—they were written for a specific moment and haven’t found a new application; others were great acts of love but not great works of art. I love that we sang them—that we gave the artist a platform—and then he or she continued to develop. We let people give it a shot because whether the song is perfect or not, the experience of singing something new together achieves our goal of creating that sense of belonging we think everyone needs to experience with God. We always want to be a new expression of that.
So far we’ve only recorded 38 of our original songs on our four worship albums, Light the Way, Finding Home, Patiently Impatient, and Resist and Restore. You can listen, download, and support us on Circle of Hope Audio Art’s Bandcamp. People all over the world sing our songs. We’re always surprised to find out when that happens! Maybe they are news to you and you can have a new experience with God while you listen and learn to sing along. If you’ve never been to a Sunday meeting, find one near you and come be new with us.