Best Practices for Adventist Worship (BP): How long ago did you plant the One Connection Church?
Endri Misho (EM): The first plant was in 2015 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Now there are three locations, including Boston and Lowell.
BP: How many people worship together at each location?
EM: There are about 45-50 people gathering in Haverhill, 35-40 in Boston, and 15-20 in Lowell.
BP: Do pastoral staff preach every Sabbath at all locations?
EM: No. Definitely not! [laughs]
BP: Who preaches?
EM: Pastoral staff preach once or twice a month at each location. On other Sabbaths, lay leaders who have gone through training preach.
BP: You’ve intentionally trained these leaders?
EM: That’s right. We do training before they preach. Then I take notes when they preach and offer feedback the following week about things that went well and things that could have gone better. This feedback has been very effective in improving preaching.
BP: Does worship have a similar structure in each location?
EM: Yes. We started with a template, which includes some main components that we’d like to have. But it’s up to each plant how they want to arrange things. The main components are praise time (music or singing), prayer, the sermon or message, and discussion groups. Food and fellowship are also very important aspects of each church gathering.
BP: Are there designated worship leaders or teams for each location?
EM: Right now we have two praise teams, one that serves in Haverhill and Lowell and a separate team that serves in Boston. Initially, there was some overlap, where musicians would go to different locations. But now we have two praise teams for three locations. And each praise team decides what they’ll do.
BP: Are the praise teams set or is there a rotation of members?
EM: Some people participate more frequently than others. These dedicated members provide stability. We also integrate new people so that the teams can grow and maybe multiply.
BP: Everyone can imagine the challenges that might come with having a lot of volunteer leaders. Can you identify some of the advantages of relying on volunteers?
EM: Yes. We decided from the very beginning that we would try not to hire anyone for anything unless absolutely necessary. We spend a lot of time in prayer; and when God brings us leaders, we take time to talk, cast the vision of the church, and discuss the mission of making disciples. So every volunteer shares a very specific discipleship focus. For example, we encourage praise team leaders to look for people to invest in and empower so they can also be leaders. These volunteer leaders understand that they are building other leaders and empowering the gifts of others.
BP: So you are leading by example, empowering people who you want to empower others?
EM: Absolutely. We take that very seriously. I always ask, how can I empower this leader to reach the full potential that they have. It’s a challenge to step in where needed but not step in too much, creating room for people to make mistakes so they can learn and grow. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it.