Tuesday, October 16, 2007

doodling around church as songs and sermon

Today I was doodling with what is now traditional church worship:
fast songs
slow songs
altar call
go home

I was messing around with what I am calling “Grow”: wondering about creating a template that would allow the use of whole variety of ways to learn and engage, working across age ranges; maintaining singing and sermon, adding in food, all together with the aim of growing people through a range of ways to participate. I tend to think through my keyboard, so here is what I typed. (Note that I used a theme to try to keep my doodling grounded, and that theme was “gardening” ie we are like plants. We need to be planted, weeded, watered.)

Welcome and introduction

Video clip (3 mins): humous gardening incidents movie clip

Gathering (4 mins): Plant our names in hanging basket at centre, using track Grow from latest Salmonella Dub album Heal me.

Prayer for growth.

Visual presentation (5 mins): History of gardens through time via here.

7 min interview of a gardener.

10 ten: 10 best/worst gardens in our community.

Sermon on Bible text (12 mins): Possible themes could include Garden of Eden as ideal place to be planted; garden images in Bible; Garden of Resurrection; Garden of Revelation.

What do we learn about gardening for our Christian life? Brainstorm in groups onto A3 sheets. Add to Grow website during week.

Video meditation loop: growth of plant; leading into response

Activity: Come forward to chose your plant to take care of during week and then name your plant on planter stick. During this activity: background music, either DJ or sung

Notices and offering


I sort of liked it. It seemed to me to offer lots of ways to learn and engage. I could see bits of the service being picked up by other people, thus increasing the sense of ownership. It felt accessible at a range of levels.

I began to wonder what it might “grow” into 🙂

Posted by steve at 10:15 PM


  1. Loved your accidental (?) malapropism. Humous (humus:as in garden) or humorous

    Comment by Jaybee — October 17, 2007 @ 9:34 am

  2. I would like to *attend* a participatory service like this! I have even thrown round similar ideas in the past. But it seems to me that it is too radical a concept…..please do it Steve.

    Comment by Rachael — October 17, 2007 @ 11:32 am

  3. really appreciate the encouragement rach. can you tell me more about why you like the idea and why you think it’s too radical?


    Comment by steve — October 17, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

  4. I just came back to have a nosey at this Steve and realised my answer to your question must have flown into cyber-space. I’ll try to remember waht I said…..

    Why too radical? Because when I have suggested doing similar things (and not even in *church* – “just” at home group) people have looked at me as if I have a horn in the middle of my forehead. And so I do this stuff just with my own kids.

    Why do I like it? Because it is participatory – it is so much more than sitting and staring at the back of someone’s head. Of course we are told to come to church with an expectation that God will use us or speak to us, but when the whole service is based around us listening to the up-the-front-people and singing some songs, there’s not too much scope for REAL involvement (some, but not much).

    I like it, because it is intergenerational. This is one of my soapboxes and I’ll refrain from getting up on it – but I DO believe we can make services such that young and old can benefit from them, and contribute to them. This one does it for me.

    I like real life stories. I like to hear from people who are living lives devoted to God – and not only the often-dualistically-minded “people in fulltime ministry”. It’s quite probable that your real life gardener will be a person who loves God, works a job and gardens in his/her spare time.

    I love history. Now this might seem like a personal preference, but actually I think it’s more than that. Most people of our generation and younger have very little idea about history – this is to our detriment in so many ways and I see no reason why the church cannot be involved in filling this gap. Yours is a perfect example of how it CAN be done. The worldviews expressed through even gardening would make an interesting study!

    And there’s a sermon. And it’s short! Yes I like both of those.

    But there’s more. There truly are lots of things I like about this. There is quiet. Sound silly? Well, maybe, but it’s something that appeals to me. It highlights (simply by doing it) the importance of listening to God – usually the church services I attend are about talking at God; silence is uncomfortable.

    Then there’s the appeal to the senses – you just missed out having a strong smelling plant by the door as everyone walks in – and as a hayfever sufferer, I thank you for that!!!!!

    But even without attending that service, it spurred me on to other thoughts of community – for example, our family (or a small group of friends or the youth group) could go and weed the garden of an older couple in our church – he’s wheelchair-bound and cannot do anything for himself. There would be others too who would appreciate such an act of service.

    So did you do it? I’d love to know how it went.

    Comment by Rachael — October 23, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  5. very, very helpful rach.

    we’re working on grow starting nov 9. set up a website this week – http://www.whatisgrow.blogspot.com – where we will be sticking stuff.

    and i imagine it will run regularly ie weekly, Sunday evenings,from then on.so yes, will keep you posted as the planning takes shape and as it settles down,


    Comment by steve — October 23, 2007 @ 3:50 pm

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