Wednesday, March 23, 2011

can mission be embedded into the worship DNA? a 2nd proposal

This is a further post on the topic: can mission be embedded into the worship DNA? a proposal.

In an ideal world, worship moves as a spiral between gathered and scattered, scattered and gathered.

I imagine two circles. Some worship I experience is simply gathered – you go round and round in a circle with no evidence that life outside Sunday, outside the church building exists. Some worship I experience as simply scattered – the call to live in the world, as individual salt and light, with no connection to the people of God gathered. What I suggest is that the two circles – gathered and scattered – overlap, with a continuous flow.

Whether you start with gathered, and then are sent into the world to be the hands and feet of Jesus, or whether you find yourself the hands and feet of Jesus and return to share those stories with the community of God, the hope is a rhythm in which the people of God gather to scatter, scatter to gather.

In my first proposal I sketched a way that over time, over a month, a community might structure itself to embody this flow between gathered and scattered.

In this second proposal, I suggest a way this could happen weekly. This is based on deciding that the places we are salt and light are the primary places in which we are Christian. In other words, to be Christian is to be scattered.

Then, when we gather, we want the stories of us being in scattered in mission, of us being the hands and feet of Jesus, to shape our gathered worship.

The suggestion is that we use the standard pattern of worship

  • Call to worship
  • Thanksgiving
  • Confession
  • Word – hearing
  • Word – engaging
  • Communion
  • Prayers for the world
  • Benediction

and invite the focus to be on the community sharing stories that are arising from our scatteredness. In other words – what have we seen that makes us thankful? what have we experienced that sends us to confession? what in our scattered context makes the Word alive among us? what from the newspapers is causing us to pray?

When people gather, worship moves through this regular pattern. People simply share the stories. This could be impromptu, or it could be decided prior, or it could be a mix of both. Some sort of shared words could be used to nest individual stories in the work of the worshipping community. For example, after each thanks story is shared, then everyone together says – Thanks be to God. Or words from the Lectionary Psalm are read together after stories for confession have been shared.

It will probably mean less of a need for a worship leader as song leader (although songs could still be sung) and more of a need for worship leader as curator – a person to welcome, enact the call to worship, offer the benedict, who make sure enviroment works, and to link, where necessary between the segments. (Mark Pierson’s The Art of Curating Worship: Reshaping the Role of Worship Leader has more on worship leader as curator.)

This second proposal is using the established gathered worship liturgy of the church, but is making the focus of gathered worship the stories from the scattered lives-in-mission. It is refusing to let worship be about gathering, nor letting scattering have no communal resourcing. Rather it is “lightening” existing gathered worship by orientating it around the stories of the people of God in life.

Posted by steve at 11:39 AM

1 Comment

  1. [...] …check out his posts on the relationship between gathered and scattered communities. He points out that Christian life often falls all into one category or the other (”I go to church and am oblivious of the world”, v. “I live out my faith in the world and church seems irrelevant to it”) – but both gathered worship and daily life work better if they are continuously looped together and visibly and experientially effect each other. Share and Enjoy: [...]

    Pingback by Sin is like dog sh*t on your shoe – Maggi Dawn — March 23, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

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