The fourth in the Lent Lecture series, Re-imaging Church - Worship, was introduced by Rev David Curran (r).Liz Jackson presented slides illustrating a wide selection of differing worship styles - complete with their music. The group was invited to show which pictures reflect what they thought were 'worship'.
Younger generations lost in love, wonder and praise, with the music of Matt Redman
Kiddies party – messy worship
Kids in church pews – hip hop version of the song Who is the king of the jungle?
Robed Eucharist with the music Lord of all hopefulness
Soup[er] kitchen with lively background chatter
Hands outstretched to the heavens with wildlife noises – birds, bees; perhaps illustrating How great thou art
Monks – monastic chant
Liz defined worship as actually means giving worth to God - Worth ship. It lifts us, units, us, bonds us, speaks to us, transforms us as the one body. Worship is giving worth to God but it is also about us becoming different people as a result of giving worth to God.
We can worship in all these ways but still there is something about worship that compels us to introduce it to other people – the every people we serve through worship – to have them engage with the transforming God.
Do we passionately share it with others if we like it?
Do we want others to feel that power and mystery, that transformation? This was illustrated with an Escher picture of fish changing into birds.
Showing a picture of a black car, Liz offered a quote – 'you can have any colour as long as it’s black'. Are we like that at church – any type as long as it’s what we like. All churches present the same thing. There's a lot to be said for the way we do things… The hymns that have been handed down over the centuries help us know what we believe. Good order and repect. Liturgical texts prevent heresy and straying from the orthodox. Same way as we’ve always done it – what’s the impact on others?
People engage in what they believe in in many ways: while 33% think religion is important, 7% or less attend a church. People say they believe in God and value what it offers. Are we failing to engage those people?
Is it the style, the content or something else? Liz recalled a time in her childhood where she was wanting the approval of my friend’s mum took me to Broad Street Methodist; the worship did very little for me. 5/6 years later on she recalled going to traditional St Mary & St Nicolas – and weeping at the beauty of the worship. The growing churches tend to use different styles of music and worship. Orthodox churches are also seeing growth.
Liz offered some suggestions: We shouldn’t get rid of what we have unless it’s truly awful. Instead, think of ways in which we can engage with those not already coming along.What do we want people to feel in worship?What do we want them to learn, to experience?What touches the people we find ourselves surrounded by?Two things affect people’s choices:
How does a particular church give worth to God outside the church walls – its evangelism, engaging with the people outside its main congregation. All of our lives are worship to God.
The other area is the quality of the worship makes a difference, too. People don’t stay – often due to the first impression, the first welcome.
Someone said how 'This Sunday I listened to a 45 minute sermon concerning Paul’s meeting with Festus…. I came away with an excellent knowledge of a meeting 2,000 years ago, but not equipped how to help and encourage the unbelieving member so my family'.
Are we really saying that the only time that the Holy Spirit inspired hymns to be written was in the 17– 19 centuries?
It doesn’t reach me – touch me – it doesn’t do it for me. If we feel like that, what about the others.
It’s boring It’s really sad that a daughter said that.
If all this worship is so exciting that it allows us to be transformed, then we’re doing something wrong if it fails to touch others. What ne finds boring may be food for the soul for another. What are we doing now? Who are we trying to reach? Which church’s family services make everyone happy?
From Liz’s experience, children on housing estates were the main members of a congregation, so they engaged with them in their church. Work out what the audience needs.
Liz described the Be Attitude: not doing everything and trying to please everybody all the time.
When someone walks in with a sleeping bag, plastic sheets and asks if their friends can come in, how do we welcome them? Some are happy for everyone to pray. They’re happy for cups of tea – and even happier to have something to eat – their friends came along too.
Some were disaffected – those who would find church boring. Some would be Goths, some conversing with each other by text across the table – but then they would join in and light all the candles at the front of the church and start praying. Giving worth to God by serving food and something stirred.
Some of the soup kitchen crowd were touched by the Eucharist, sharing bread and wine, and oil of anointing. It’ not the content that makes a difference.
How do we join the dots up? If a church does something really, really well, let’s use those resources to the glory of God. Unless we give worth in what we do best, do it together. Break down those barriers and do things together. Let’s do it for the sake of the other 93% who don’t yet come to church.
Eight groups of eight worked through these discussion questions:
What do we think of worship now?How would you define worship? What does worship do? Why does worship matter? Does worship change anything?About what we do nowWhat is important about traditional worship? What would you want to keep? What would you want to change?Dreaming DreamsWhat do you want to share in worship? Who do you want to share it with? What works for you? What do you think might work for other people?Be bold – say it! How do you want to be able to worship God?
Amongst the newer initiatives and fresh expressions of worship mentioned on the night was Transcendence, described as an ancient-future Mass a monthly, multimedia Eucharist held in different spaces within York Minster.
“Whatever gets your worship decides your destiny”