Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Missional church, missional liturgy

“For several years, I have offered workshops and classes on “missional liturgy.” A frequent response has been, “How can I make my church’s liturgy missional?” As I listened to these questions and probed more deeply, it has seemed as though people were asking about techniques … I began to realize that it was the wrong question.” (44-45).

There is a helpful article in the latest edition of Theology today, by Ruth A. Meyers on the shape of worship in missional church, which I will be adding it to my list of compulsory readings for the Missional Church Leadership courses I teach.

The article starts with a real life story of a missional community. Always a good sign, because a key theology underpinning missional church is the focus on lived communities and their practices, in contrast to starting first with elaborate theories. The article then places their lived practices alongside existing understandings of worship.

  • Inside and outside – gathered public worship builds up and resources Christians who then go out to serve in mission
  • Outside in – gathered public worship is seen as mission, attracting people who are changed by the worship experience
  • Inside out – worship is mission, not as an instrument to change people as with “outside in”, but as an full expression of God’s mission

The article then argues that all, and yet none, of these three categories describe missional worship.  After a helpful survey of recent shifts in mission – mission is a partnering with a Trinitarian God rather than humans taking initiatives – she then outlines a number of concrete practices, in which mission is worship and worship is mission. The list sounds traditional, yet has an intentional reframing.

  • Reconciling community – the more diverse the worshipping community, the more worship is missional, showing forth God’s reconciling love
  • Hospitality – welcoming those not yet active members with a focus on who is not here from our neighbourhood? Hence, what might need to change in us?
  • Symbol – using language of the people
  • Proclamation – seeing all the acts of gathered public worship as educational
  • Intercession – praying beyond our narrow parochial concerns, which in turns open those who pray to transformation
  • Offering – worship engaging the whole of life and all the people
  • Thanksgiving – simple gratitude
Posted by steve at 04:03 PM

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