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Oakridge Presbyterian Contemporary Worship Service
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By Mike Toth



Oakridge Presbyterian Church has been an anchor in the Oakridge community of London for many, many years. In addition to ministering to church members the church has been heavily involved in international missions, youth missions through Camp Kintail, local missions through their extraordinary partnership with Mission Services of London, and local outreach programs including the Alpha program.

In fact, it was with an eye to the future of serving the community that Oakridge embarked on a major and ambitious expansion and upgrade of church facilities a few years ago. The people of the church were quite aware of the fact that the young people and young adults of London were not only leaving the churches of London, but most were never engaged to begin with. The proof was in the demographic: Even though attendance stayed basically the same the church was getting older. For several years the people of the church prayed about what direction they should take in order to connect with the younger generation. The decision was made to trial a contemporary worship service.

The church did the first service on September 27, 2015 on a Sunday morning, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Over 200 people attended the first service as the people of the church showed up for support, and the attendance of the monthly service has steadied at around 100. As well, Oakridge has found that some church members who had drifted away from church came back. Pastor John Park has taken the lead in developing the services.

“The goal is to bring the Kingdom of God to the people,” says Park, “and to apply God’s Kingdom to their lives.” While the goal is lofty and some would argue the language isn’t seeker friendly enough for the younger generation he is confident the church is on the right track.

“Young people want it authentic; they don’t want it covered up,” says Park. “Young people love the truth, they love tough messages. If you make it strong and engaging they will respond.”

Oakridge’s’ desire to provide that authenticity extends to the worship band. They are able to use a full band in a less formal setting, and use a little less conventional strategy in assembling that band.

“We’re not professionals, we’re worse than other contemporary services,” Park says with a laugh. “There are some in (the contemporary band) who have no experience in leading worship, but their hearts are there. We’d rather have people who may have less skills and talents but who have hearts and vision for the Lord. We’ve had people come up to us after the service and tell us, ‘ That is the first time I ever felt like I really worshipped.’”

Oakridge Presbyterian Church meets on Sunday mornings at 9:15 and 11 for their blended worship services. The contemporary service is currently the 3rd Sunday of every month at 4 pm. The church is located at 970 Oxford Street West.