Tomorrow night Bill and I begin teaching a class at Virginia-Highland Church called “Wine & Word.” It actually is a three-part series designed to give people a general working knowledge of both wine and scripture. On Sunday, someone said this is my way of tricking people into coming to Bible study … and they are right. Well, I’m not actually tricking them; more like bribing them with something they actually are interested in.
Billy Graham used to say that people came to hear George Beverly Shea or Ethel Waters sing, and then they stayed to hear him preach. I figure, if people will come to hear Bill talk about wine and stay to hear me talk about the Bible, it will be a good deal and everyone will win.
Actually, the whole thing is an experiment. Virginia-Highland Church has been wonderful about this since I’ve been their pastor. After being at the Cathedral of Hope for more than 20 years, I wasn’t sure that I knew anything about renewing congregations. This church has allowed me to experiment on them, and, so far, it has worked out pretty well for all of us.
“Wine & Word” is an experiment in starting an alternative worship service, without calling it that. This first round will be purely internal, so we can learn together what works and what doesn’t. For the next six-week session, which will be held in the fall, I hope we can open it up and invite our friends. In the spring, my goal is to begin inviting people from the neighborhood. We will see if it works …
Experimenting doesn’t come naturally to churches or to pastors. It may not come naturally to you either. That is too bad. Do you know the saying that crazy is doing the same thing and expecting different results? Perhaps it is time to try something different in your spiritual life. Maybe it is time to experiment. It may not work. That is the very definition of experiment. But then again it might, and you may become a better, stronger, healthier person for it. So, have a little wine with your Word. Who knows what the Spirit may say?
Rev. Michael Piazza