"Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don't yet see." Hebrews 11:1, CEB
In a day and age of increasing anonymity and division, The 11:01, created by First United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a place where people are known, find purpose, and connect with God and others. We all long to find hope and to share hope, making a difference in each other's lives. The name of The 11:01 is not just about the starting time of worship. The idea comes from the New Testament letter of Hebrews, chapter 11, the first verse.
The 11:01 was created to share the love of God with new people in a comfortable, coffee house-like atmosphere. It is one community joined by hope—a time and space where people experience the living God through worship, community, and service. A place where people are drinking some coffee and finding a community that welcomes them, and everyone finds a place at the table.
"The idea for the 11:01 came about because we knew that tens of thousands of people in the Sioux Falls area, under the age of 45, do not currently have a faith community to call home. All people are searching for meaning and purpose today when anonymity and disconnection seem all but the norm," said Pastor Jordan Louks, associate pastor at First UMC in Sioux Falls. "We wanted to create a community built on hope in the living God and hope in the power of community. We knew there was a need to create a place and space where people could connect in our strained, divided world."
The initial planning for the service began in the summer of 2021. At that time, a Launch Team was formed. In October 2021, Jason Moore from Midnight Oil Productions met with the Launch Team for a weekend retreat.
"At the retreat, we continued dreaming and discerning what this new service could look like and who we could reach through it," said Pastor Sara Nelson, lead pastor at First UMC.
After that weekend, sub-groups were formed to focus on different aspects of the worship experience, such as the Worship Service Essentials Team, Marketing/Promotion Team, Hospitality Team, Worship Space Design Team, Technology, and Sound Team, Kids and Families Team, and the Missional Integration Team. Each Launch Team member volunteered to lead a sub-group. The Launch Team would meet nearly every week to report on the sub-group work.
The launch date was April 24, 2022, at 11:01 a.m. As the launch date approached, two preview services were held to help get the details in place for a successful launch.
The 11:01 incorporates modern music, interactive community and prayer time, Holy Communion every week, Spirit-filled prayer, and a scripture-inspired message. Everyone entering the worship space is invited to stop by the coffee station, where there are a variety of beverages and snacks to enjoy anytime during the service.
A connect board helps people find out who needs help in the community or send an invitation or request help. Those attending The 11:01 can sign-up to be a part of one of the many church ministries at First UMC and receive the e-newsletter each week.
"Our service has a relaxed and casual vibe to come and learn about Christianity and Jesus. We focus on having newer, modern music like you'd hear on the radio. The service is geared towards younger generations searching for a place in their community but welcome to ALL," said Cody Geary, a Launch Team member.
There are several prayer stations located throughout the worship space. There is a prayer cross where worshippers can choose a ribbon using a color chart and tie a ribbon on the cross while saying a prayer. Pray-Ground is a spot where children of all ages can find an activity to engage with and feel welcome during the service. There is a Prayer Doodle station where people can draw a shape around a prayer and doodle as they pray. There is also a Prayer Praises & Concerns station, a chance to write down any prayers to God or praise for an answered prayer.
Everyone at The 11:01 is invited to contribute to the church's life by giving joyfully and generously as an act of worship and prayer in one of three ways. People can scan a QR code with a cell phone. Worshippers can also give by texting or place gifts in a basket in the back of the worship space.
Pastor Jordan said, "Our purpose is to share the love of God and the good news of Jesus with more and more people. Our modern worship intends to be a place people can go on Sunday mornings to worship, connect, serve, and be in community together. That is why we meet in a room that has been transformed to evoke sanctuary meets living room meets coffeehouse. We want people to experience the sacred in the middle of the ordinary as they become rooted in the living God. And rooted in a desire to love God and love neighbor, even more, growing as disciples of Jesus."
Hanna (Haro) Geary is a lifelong churchgoer who is now involved in The 11:01 service. She said, "It is truly unique. I can honestly say that it's the most welcoming and inclusive church service I have ever attended. It's a place where my questions are answered, I feel spiritually fed, and I feel like I belong. It's a church that I am proud to support!"
Each week there are about 50 familiar faces at The 11:01. There are also 40-50 new people who are connecting because of the Launch Team's efforts and the congregation's current members.
"We were blessed by individuals and families within the church committing to attend the new 11:01 service as "Champion Families" for six months because it was critical to have people committed to attending the service on a regular basis when it launched. We also hired a new Modern Worship Band Leader a few months prior to launching the service, who began working with the 11:01 Band," said Pastor Sara.
Cody and Hanna are excited to see growth each week, with some familiar faces and new people showing up.
"The service is doing very well, and I'm so excited to watch it grow! It's amazing to see the once new faces become regulars. I believe this church will do great things in the heart of Sioux Falls," said Hanna.
Cody said, "The service is going great with more and more familiar faces showing up weekly. The service continues to send me out into the world positive, energized, and craving more Jesus."
The second Sunday of each month is called Service Sunday at The 11:01. On Service Sunday, there is a station to be in service for and with the Sioux Falls community by packing canteen kits, camper bags, and Teddy Bear Den kits. Service Sunday was launched with support from the Dakotas Conference and Dakotas Foundation Breakthrough Ministry Grants.
Rev. Ben Ingebretson serves as the Director of New Church Development for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area. If you have ideas about starting a new worshipping community, contact Ben by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.