Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What’s the Wow!…

Why do you come to worship? When you come to worship…! To sing a long favorite song? Discover something new in scripture? Does the sermon most pique your interest? Meeting and greeting new friends? Or maybe worship has simply become a routine in your life. You attend because you’ve always attended, as your parents before you.

Do also you come to worship to encounter God? Not that you can’t do that at home in prayer, wandering awestruck through nature, devouring a great meal with friends you adore. As Isaiah 6 says, “The whole earth is full of God’s glory!” But something about worship changes the game; helps us put distractions aside and focus on the divine realities of life. At least, that’s how worship ought work when it’s working well. But whatever the reason, I presume it’s true that there’s a hunger, a hope, a holy opportunity we seek to claim that keeps us coming back, longing for Grace.

Now being in my sixth year of professional worship leadership, one thing I’ve learned is that we’ve all got many reasons. No one answer works for anyone, not all the time. And because of that variety, that evolution of experience, a good worshipping church is never satisfied. Rather, they take seriously the idea that we’re created in the Creator’s image, which is to say we’re created to create. To always seek what else is possible- in the world through justice and compassion, in our spiritual lives through prayer and meditation, in our families and communities through intimacy and relationship, and in our churches through new forms of worship. It’s fashionable to focus that creative attention on music, and good worshipping churches do sing new songs, while honoring older ones; try on new forms, while enjoying the familiar. But worship is more than hymnals and praise music. It’s praying, witnessing, sharing, receiving, lifting all our gifts to God in praise!

All of which is prelude to an idea I heard recently. A church in California I had the honor to visit in April has a guiding principle for their worship life that I want to explore with you. While planning worship, their pastors, musicians and worship leaders ask a simple question- In the upcoming service, what will be the Wow?! The theory is that while much of their service retains traditional forms, instruments, etc., they’re not content with just going through the motions. Instead, every service, they hope to offer worshippers something more, something unexpected perhaps, or something advertised well in advance. But whatever it is, it needs to be something they don’t do every week. And it needs to (hopefully) lead people to say Wow!

Here are examples- A Poetry Sunday where people in the pews share their own work, a skit during the offering that explores some spiritual theme, an unexpected introit by the choir or a visiting group, a sermon series on movies, a day of holy hilarity and levity. Wow can be said enthusiastically- “Wow! Did you see that!?!?” Wow can be barely uttered- “Wooow. That was so…nice.” However it’s said, though, the goal is to get folks to say it, to walk out of church feeling great about worshipping.

I wonder if Plymouth Creek could plan a series of Wows in coming months, and more especially, I wonder if you’d help me do it? I’d love to gather a group of folk to brainstorm a variety of ways we can inspire worshippers to walk out feeling Wowed. Ideally, we’d look at the calendar from September through next May, and something every Sunday that may elicit a Wow. Will you help with that? If so, email me or pull me aside the next Sunday I’m in church (June 17- the Annual Congregational Meeting). And together we’ll work on adding new wrinkles to our worship. And if this isn’t the right idea, I’m sure we’ll discover another. For we don’t just want to do what we’ve always done, do we church? We want to worship! Which is to say honor our Creator’s creativity through our creativeness too!

Grace and Peace,

No comments:

Post a Comment