"No Walls" Climate Reflected in Dayspring UMC's New Facility
On any given evening in the Piney Woods of East Texas there is a new light shining through the trees. It can be seen from the road as cars drive to and from a well-frequented park in Tyler. It is the light of Dayspring United Methodist Church. After being “portable” for over four years, this young church recently moved into a place to call its own.
From its inception in October of 2007, Dayspring has made an intentional emphasis on being “a church without walls.” In the beginning, this was true in the literal sense because church was held in a local movie theater. This location made Dayspring visible to the community, and also provided a neutral and familiar place for curious, un-churched to comfortably experience what church was all about. Getting them there was the secret to keeping them there; most people who came, returned.
Dayspring currently averages 425 in weekly worship attendance. According to Pastor Jeff Olive, being “a church without walls” also meant more than the physical parameters. “The people of Dayspring make a point of knowing each other by name and extending a welcome to any new face,” he says.
Additionally, adult small groups have long met in the homes of volunteer leaders during the week, allowing for further personal and spiritual growth in a casual setting.
Dayspring’s “no walls” climate extends beyond itself well into the community and beyond. This outreach-oriented congregation provides numerous gifts and talents to the community in contributions of time and donations to a variety of non-profit organizations. On Easter Sunday, Dayspring hosts a community celebration service in the public park.
Growth has been a natural result of this “no walls” culture. According to Pastor Olive:
· Dayspring’s service is modern.
· Dayspring is down to earth. Most people (including the pastor) prefer to worship in their jeans.
· Dayspring is reverent. The liturgical elements of worship and classic hymns (familiar to cradle Methodists) are woven into the worship services.
· Dayspring embraces diversity. They warmly welcome people of all ages, socio-economic status, race and family dynamic.
· Dayspring is progressive. The use of technology is cutting edge in all areas of ministry.
· Dayspring is rooted in scripture. Its name is derived from the book of Luke which proclaims Jesus to be the Dayspring who has come to bring light and peace to the lives of all people.
· Dayspring is bathed in prayer. The staff and leaders commit to pray for God’s work in their church and in their ministry on a daily basis.
Adds Pastor Olive, “Our new building reflects all of these character traits. The architecture is a blend of cut rock pillars and metal siding. There are walls—but they are transparent.” The front of the building has floor to ceiling windows showing the open lobby area used for fellowship and refreshments on Sunday mornings. Three screens and a corner stage in the large sanctuary space ensure that every one of the 320 seats offer a great view.
The large picture windows in the back corner of the room remind people to look beyond their own space. Half of the new worship building is devoted to children’s ministry. There is a worship space for nursery, preschool and elementary ages. In the office building is a meeting area for the middle school and high school youth.
Having a home of its own has given the congregation a sense of accomplishment and excitement. Pastor Olive notes, “The church has grown and has found a place to call permanent. At night, the lighted tower is a beacon to passersby offering an invitation to draw near to Christ. By day, the true light of Dayspring can be found all over the community as the People of Dayspring share the love of Christ beyond their new walls.”