Changes in worship

October 16, 2007

This past Sunday, my mandate for leading worship was “be different.” In fairness, I should say that none of the ideas were original, but I pulled them together to create a change for The Journey:

  • The band was arranged in a broad circle, with the people who came sitting between band members. I wanted to communicate that the music was not something to be performed by one group and consumed by another, but that we were all in this together.
  • Art supplies were set up for people to participate in art-worship. Only a few people went for it, but it was a start.
  • I tried to make a break from “happy clappy plastic songs”. The tone we created was more intense and moody.
  • In the biggest break from established pattern, I used the middle of a song to teach about prayers of complaint, reading Psalm 13 as an example. Then with the music still going underneath, I invited people to come to the microphone, begin with the words “How long,” and state a complaint against God — to which everyone would respond by saying, “How long, O Lord?” I made a point of pushing the microphone away from me to communicate that I was yielding control. Here too, only a few people went for it, and there were moments of awkwardness. But it was a start.

People’s reactions to the morning seem pretty polarized: some loved it, some hated it. There were complaints that “it didn’t feel like church.” Excellent.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

10 responses to Changes in worship

  1. There is a reason I don’t push for making it in time for worship. If only I had known you were leading…

  2. Aimee, I will have to ask you more about this offline. But be warned, “in time for worship” can vary from Sunday to Sunday.

  3. I love your reaction to the comments in that you weren’t disappointed that not everyone jumped on board praising your “innovation.” It seems like one of your primary purposes (after exalting God and inviting others to join you course) was to agitate. To shake people from thinking that worship has to happen in the way that they’re familiar with.
    When do you lead worship without music?

  4. Jose: Yeah, I want to stretch people’s “worship vocabulary” outside of singing songs, and even with music I want to stretch beyond the “safe, acceptable” songs. I consider my role to be worship leader, not song leader.
    I am trying to create space for worship through art. (Here are some photos of last Sunday.) And the time before, I led a non-musical body prayer.

  5. Jon,
    I like it when you push the limits on worship. It’s kind of boring to sing some old song, clap, listen to someone talk, sing another song (rah rah), clap, listen to someone talk, sing….
    I didn’t realize there was an art corner until it was announced at the END of the service. Was it there again this past Sunday?

  6. Thanks, Linda. Yeah, if it doesn’t challenge anyone, why bother.
    I did not see any space made for artists this past Sunday. Curiously, from where I sat, I could see two people sitting in their chairs, sketching away.

  7. Great worship on Sunday… one of the better times I can remember

  8. Ha, seeker, your cover is blown! 😉

  9. As you can see from my profile I never intended to be sneaky but I am a “seeker”. :-)] I too am wrestling with a lot of cynicism… I love people and the Church of Jesus Christ but I am tired of the Church as a business organization. I wish we could do completely organic thing that takes on a life of it’s own and takes over the valley.

  10. I wonder if it would be possible to have a “church” where…
    We all just showed up at a particular place and time (that could vary)
    Where we met in homes sometimes with those who were geographically close or a group that had some kind of affinity
    Where there is no budget, but people gave liberally to those in need, to City Team, World Vision, or their favorite missionaries, etc
    Where if we have a really big meeting once in a while we just take an offering to cover the expense of renting some public space
    Where leadership arises organically