When I interviewed here last year, one of the first things I fell in love with was our worship service. It is sweet, heartfelt, and our worship music is offered by sincerely talented, Christ-centered people. There is a simplicity and authenticity in our services that strikes me as humble and sincere. I give all the credit to our worship team and to Winfield for creating such a wonderful atmosphere of worship that welcomes us all into the presence of God!
So why are we changing things up a little bit? There are a few reasons for this change, and they are both practical and theological. These changes speak to our natural human disposition as well as to the journey that our entire being (body, spirit, and soul) experiences in worship.
First, the natural human disposition: All of us, ministers and worship leaders included, find ourselves in a bit of a rush most Sunday mornings. With the strain of the week behind us, the worry of the week ahead, and the chaos that most families struggle with in getting out of the house anytime they leave, we are not always in the easiest place to enter into worship when church starts. And that is OK! While some people can settle quickly and let all that mess wash off like water on a duck’s back, I’m not one of those people. And I bet that most of you are like me. With the way our worship structure has been, its only by the end of the third song that I feel a bit of rest and peace pouring over me. Then all of the sudden, we stop, make some announcements, and take a five minute break. Talk about a buzz kill!
By moving the worship to the end, we are allowing all elements of the service to minister to our entire being and to more effectively shape us and open us up to respond in deeper worship and admiration for our mighty, Triune God. Because it will now be at the end, we will be freer to be more spontaneous: If the worship team and I feel that there is a particular sensing of the presence of God, we can continue to sing another chorus, or to pray in spontaneity without feeling hampered by the commitments of the rest of the service. It gives us time to offer more prayer ministry to those that want to pray with a prayer minister at the back of the church. Mostly though, it allows the hassles of the week to slough off and clears our minds to respond with a greater passion to God’s call on our life.
Secondly, the new structure provides a few elements that we were missing. 1.) The declaration of the Word of God apart from the sermon. Don’t get me wrong, I love preaching sermons, and think that it is a wonderful and necessary part of discipleship. However, the Word of God, specifically in the Gospels, should be given a chance to speak for itself. God is alive in the Word, and when we take the time to read it publicly, we are honoring Holy Scripture, and holding it up as central to our church’s life. So each week, we are going to have a special time to read a Gospel passage out loud. Sometimes this will the subject of the sermon, other times the sermon may focus on another Scripture passage. Regardless, we will give the words and life of Jesus Christ centrality to our church’s beliefs! 2.) The Take 5 has been a fun part of our service, and I am a little leery in changing it. However, it has also served as an unnatural break in the flow of our service. The history of church worship has always allowed for a moment where people may greet each other, but more specifically for them to bless each other with the peace of Christ. This “passing of the peace” allows for people to be greeted and for people to make amends before responding to the message of the worship. If there is someone within the service that has offended you for some reason, this passing of the peace is the perfect time to extend and receive forgiveness before approaching the communion table. It isn’t just a silly moment of wrote and meaningless gestures, but one that is rich in forgiveness and love. By removing the Take 5 and instituting The Peace, we are removing an unnatural break in the service, and allowing for the forgiveness and hospitality of God to flow through us!
Each of these changes addressed our entire being: our bodies (weary and in need of being restored in Christ through worship) our souls (which need to be cleared and stilled) and our spirits (which need nourishment from the word, the communion table, and the peace of the community). Hopefully these small changes will help us to engage deeper and experience more and more the blessings of the Kingdom of God on our little community!
Peace and blessings,