Monday, February 6, 2012

A horse of another color - or, this is not your mama's worship

     In seminary, I took a couple of classes on worship and got to practice putting unusual services together. Out of seminary, one finds that those in the pews like worship the same way each week. No surprises. Once I tried to move us from the sanctuary to the video area using "We Are Marching In the Light of God." The congregation was tolerant and some definitely approved of our change. Then I let it go for two months so people would not be alarmed that we would always march into see a youtube presentation.
     But it was time to try again, so yesterday morning, I moved our whole worship service from the sanctuary to the Great Room (aka Fellowship Hall, we are trying to use inclusive language) so that we could view and discuss a video. The video was on current slave trade in India, though we know it is about current slave trade in the US as well. My purpose, since I could have preached on this, was to invite people to see the video as it defines the problem and then discuss it. Our discussion was lively and engaging and led us to the point of asking what we, a small progressive congregation, can do to make change. (We will contact the governmental agency in New Mexico that is responsible for investigating these abuses.)
     This was the first step - both in terms of addressing a current problem and in terms of using a less formal venue for worship. I think both worked well. I know that two people did not like using the Great Room for this worship though every part of the service was the same as it would have been in the sanctuary. We had fifty-some in worship. A good turnout. Something I noticed: when we sang, choir and congregation, our voices were not lost in the too-large-for-our-congregation sanctuary. Also noticed: I deliberately invited everyone to get coffee and fruit/cookies during our worship service and some did. People told me after that they really enjoyed this service. People smiled, were engaged and stayed to talk about the video for quite awhile after. The extra work of putting this together was worth the effort.
     We will not worship this way every week, but I expect that until we can use video in the sanctuary (there is too much natural light to do it) we will try it once a month or so. Over time, we might grow to like the closeness of the table seating so much that people will ask to come.

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