Sunday, March 26, 2006

7 things I learnt from Bono and the real life of worship leading

Early this week I suggested that Christian worship could learn something from Bono and U2; under 7 headings;
1. Connect uniquely.
2. Engage through familiarity.
3. Use repetitition to call forth prayer.
4. Secure a 5th (visual) band member
5. Create hope by drawing the best from the past.
6. Plan participation.
7. Invoke passionate practices.

The post has drawn some interesting comments (including the suggestion I might be manipulative and a bit cult-ish:))

This morning I put together the following concrete act of worship, and this afternoon I thought I should put it through the “Bono worship” grid.

First some context. We as a church have been a key networker in planning and organizing a local community fun day. We have been part of the organizing group, hosted planning meetings and delivered advertising.

walthamfair.jpg (Photo from Jason). We have also put together a display for the Fun Day, profiling what the Opawa church is doing in the community. This Sunday morning the display was placed in the back of the church.

Psalm 147 was read and I then invited our children to join me around the display at the back of the church. A digital photo was also displayed on the powerpoint at the front, so that everyone could see.

I invited the kids to tell me what they saw. After a bit of slow start, they pointed out their families, different congregations, photos of social events. I repeated their words and then invited the gathered congregation to say aloud three phrases from Psalm 147; Praise the Lord, Great is the Lord, Sing to the Lord. Thus the words of children became a framework for a contemporisation and contextualisation of Psalm 147 in the life of Opawa.

Reflecting on this act of worship, in light of my U2 post;
1.It was a way to connect uniquely; the Opawa display for a Waltham Fair,
2. It was a chance to engage through familiarity; using a Psalm that has been a source of church worship for thousands of year,
3. It was a chance to use repetition to call forth prayer; using three phrases from the Psalm to allow the community to verbalise their corporate “yes” to the words of our children,
4. It was a chance to use our visual senses, the God-given gift of our eyes, by inviting the kids to look with me at the display and tell me what they saw, and by displaying the display on the powerpoint so that all could see,
5. It was a chance to create hope by drawing from the past. Psalm 147 celebrates God re-building Jerusalem. Similarly, after some years of decline, God is re-building Opawa. I made a number of verbal connections around the phrase “re-building.” This connected our Opawa story with God’s story, in a hopeful way that honoured the source of our re-building,
6. It was a chance to plan participation; what each child said became the catalyst for our prayers, while naming various Opawa ministries and congregations,
7. It was a chance to invoke the passionate practice, both of thanksgiving for what God is doing at Opawa, and of mission, drawing the Waltham Community Fun Day and the work that has gone into the stand into the heart of our worshipping life,

Please note that I did not set out to design worship around the 7 U2 linkages. It was a fragment of worship that just emerged as I got up this morning and only after the event did I wonder about the connections with my U2 post.

Posted by steve at 04:58 PM


  1. I see nothing cultish in errecting large ‘Steve’ posters at the front of the church and wearing orange as the new church uniforms.

    Is is OK if we call our church ‘Stevesong’?

    Comment by Andrew — March 26, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

  2. Trouble is that I am not playing “Zoo station” and projecting slogans like “everything you know is wrong” and so deconstructing the orange uniforms and Steve posters. So people might actually believe it.

    Comment by steve — March 26, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

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