Once a week The Well Community doors swing open wide and members eagerly start trickling in for Thursday Night Life. They come from all across Oak Cliff for fellowship, Bible teaching and the opportunity to worship God. Each faces daily challenges with mental health difficulties. Many struggle to find steady employment and housing they can afford. Several are homeless. Most deal with other physical illnesses, too. Living in poverty, which is common among Well members, makes all these challenges incredibly daunting.
But during Thursday Night Life all of those difficulties fall away. Members gather for worship and a sermon, after which volunteers from around the Dallas area serve a healthy dinner and join around the tables for a shared meal.
This is one of several regular gatherings The Well organizes for its members to help address the spiritual aspects of mental health. Not only does it provide a church service where members feel comfortable and welcome, but it also gives an opportunity for members of The Well to interact with groups from the greater Dallas area.
“When I go to The Well, there’s a part of me that comes to life,” says David Larlee, Associate Pastor at All Saints Dallas. He has preached at Thursday Night Life several times. According to Larlee, whether you’re a volunteer or a member, you can encounter Jesus at The Well. Volunteers are able to bless Well members, who have no tangible ways of giving back. Alternatively, members show volunteers that status, wealth, and privilege have little value in the eyes of God. Together they taste a bit of the joy of coming together to celebrate the God who loves each one just as they are, Larlee explains.
“It’s the Kingdom of God,” agrees Ryan Flanigan, who is Music Director at All Saints Dallas. From time to time he leads the music (along with several members of The Well) at Thursday Night Life. Flanigan lives in Oak Cliff, and the Bible study group he facilitates also joins him to serve dinner at The Well. “We want to be present in the community,” he says.
For Flanigan, leading worship at Thursday Night Life is more than giving his time and talent to members of The Well. It’s a spiritual discipline to perform in front of a congregation that doesn’t focus on the level of skill or quality of performance, he says. All semblance of status, of honor, and of shame disappear, and what you’re left with is purely love for God.
Flanigan chooses songs that The Well members are likely to know. He prefers old classics like “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace” because these songs resonate with everyone. “I’ve learned that there’s music in the bones of people and regardless of the words you’re speaking, there can be an encounter with God through this music,” he says. At one Thursday Night Life, members stood up and danced around the room. “Something was happening,” says Flanigan. “It was deep calling out to deep.”
Indeed, many Well members agree. “It’s a place where you can be yourself,” says John Earl, a 51-year-old member of The Well. Being a musician himself, he feels especially close to God during the worship service. Ward plays the drums, and sometimes plays during worship at Thursday Night Life. It’s an opportunity he and the other members would not have without The Well.
“I love it!” he says. “Come and see it! Come to The Well!”
Would your church or civic group like to volunteer?
The Well Community is always looking for volunteers to serve at Thursday Night Life. Think your group might be interested? See our Volunteer Information Page for details. Don’t hesitate to call or email! We would love to answer your questions and sign you up for a Thursday night service opportunity.