A new service and fellowship program are aimed at people seeking something new.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- With the belief that praise to God comes in many forms and should not be limited to Sunday morning, the Salem First Church of the Nazarene has launched a Saturday evening, contemporary worship service.
Led by the praise band Vertical Praise, the worship service of the same name is intended to offer an alternative to the formal atmosphere of the Sunday morning service, said Daniel Eynon, youth minister of the church.
"This is ministry from scratch," said Eynon, who plays guitar and sings with the band. "We put the band together, and we're doing it."
The weekly ministry began Nov. 3 and continues at 6 p.m. each Saturday. Most of the service is devoted to praise music. Then Eynon offers a brief message.
He said the name Vertical Praise comes from the idea that man's communication with God is vertical; praise through music is an offering up to God from man on earth heavenward.
The majority of the service is devoted to worship through music, so Vertical Praise may also mean visitors will spend a lot of time on their feet.
At a recent service, Eynon encouraged visitors to worship in whatever way they are most comfortable, from passive participation to boisterous hand-clapping, foot-stomping praise.
Although the service will likely appeal to teens and young adults, it is not limited to that age group, Eynon emphasized.
Style: The service is upbeat and informal, and dress is casual.
Some people are intimidated by formality and tradition and the typical Sunday morning service does not appeal to them, Eynon said. People seeking an alternative can worship Saturday evening and still have time for dinner out or other family activities, he said.
"I've wanted to start this ministry ever since I started here [two years ago]," Eynon said. "I'm pumped about it.
"We want to use this service to reach the community," he said. "People are out there looking for something new -- something different -- a ministry that meets their needs in a different way.
"We want this to be another open door to our church. I think God is going to use this, and it will be one of the bigger ministries of our church."'
Eynon said the service will also give people who don't work a traditional Monday-through-Friday schedule the opportunity for a corporate worship experience.
He said he was shocked to read statistics of a recent magazine article stating one-third of Americans now work Sunday.
"I read that and I thought 'Wow. What are we doing to reach them?'" he said.
Another event: After the worship service, there is a discussion group called Fresh Grounds for college students, singles and couples ages 18 to 30.
"Everything is spiritualized these days, and people are searching, picking and choosing bits of truth here and there," Eynon said. "People my age  often struggle because they don't feel they fit in anywhere."
The emphasis of Fresh Grounds is on developing an understanding of self, God, life purpose, truth and reality, Eynon said. There will be coffee and pastries or other snacks offered during the discussion, he said.