What if church could look like…. ? Worship

Last night my theology professor asked the class, “What do you like about church and what don’t you like?” The class was eager to share on this one. Some loved worshipping in song, others didn’t. Some loved the teaching style of the sermon, others thought it was terribly redundant from week to week. Truthfully, I didn’t really pay much attention to the answers, I was too busy daydreaming. What would a perfect church service look like to me?

Now before I share my ideas I need to confess that I haven’t spent any time making sure they are theologically or biblically grounded. They are simply my daydreaming-in-class musings on what church could be like.

First, worship. I have to admit it is terribly difficult for me to worship through singing at the average church. First off, as much as I try I get distracted by it- I start thinking “am I singing in tune?”, “the worship leaders aren’t singing in tune”, “oh, I love this song”, “jeez, the worship band sounds great today”, “i lovvvvve singing”… My focus goes to the band, the lyrics on the screen, my own voice. It is a fight to stay focused on who i am singing to instead of how we are singing. Second, it is so hard for me to take words on a screen and truly say/sing them as my own. It feels packaged and insincere. I want to sing my own songs to God, I want to sing what my heart is feeling, and sometimes that is the song the worship leaders picked last Tuesday, but most of the time it isn’t. The one redeeming thing about worshiping through song in church? I love that it is communal. I love that the whole church is singing together, that everyones’ voices are being mixed up into this beautiful sound, that we are creating something pleasing to God as a community. One problem, though: if I don’t feel like I am really worshipping God through the song then I don’t feel like I am part of the communal worship, more just a member of a choir.

So what would I want worship to look like? I would want it to be diverse, communal, genuine, experiential. Some weeks I would want the sanctuary filled will art supplies. Easels, paper, paint, charcoal, pens, pencils, clay… music could be played, the atmosphere would be quiet and peaceful, and we would all worship through art. We would create prayers to God in the form of paintings. We would recognize God’s character through sculpture.

Other weeks we would worship in song, but in smaller communities. Anyone with musical talent would bring their instruments to church. Songbooks with simple and familiar worship songs would be scattered around the sanctuary. And we would gather in small groups and sing and play together. We would pick the songs ourselves depending on what we wanted to say to God. And the sanctuary would be filled with the sounds of all of us singing together- but with lots of different songs and different instruments all going at once.

Other weeks could be more meditative, focusing on different attributes of God while moving around the sanctuary to different stations or through a labyrinth. Or we could share testimonies and stories and spend worship celebrating God for what he is doing within the church community.

And some weeks we would come back to communal singing, because it is beautiful and pleasing to God. But only sometimes.

Oh, what worship in church could look like!

I think this may become a short series. Maybe next time I’ll talk about the sermon.

What do you think worship in church could look like?

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3 thoughts on “What if church could look like…. ? Worship

  1. Good post Maria!

    I’ve been paying a lot more attention to worship now that we’re looking for a church. I’ve been reminded about how much I dislike big productions – we attended one church where the norm was for about 10% of the congregation to sing along with the band, who was all lit up on stage, and everyone clapped after every song – I couldn’t get used to it. Last Sunday we went to this little church that reminded me of my grandparents’ church, but there was something about it that was SO much more authentic. The music wasn’t always perfectly on key, we sang some hymns and some songs in other languages, and it was great!

    I would love to someday find a group of people to worship with in different ways. I really like worshiping in song, but there’s so much more than that! I was reminded on my day off last week of how worshipful it is for me to sit outside and draw or paint.

    I was part of a small group in high school that spent a semester studying worship. The best part about it was that we didn’t just read and talk about it, we actually practiced it. One week we went on a hike to the top of a hill in a nature reserve. Another week we read poetry together. We spent time writing and creating art. Our last meeting was on worship through fellowship and celebration – we hung out and ate food!

    Ever since then I’ve wanted to find a group of people who would practice worship like that together. Worship through art, service, fellowship, and nature can be so powerful! Sometimes I forget, though. So thanks for the reminder.

    See you soon!

  2. If I’m in LA next year, maybe we can start a group that does that. I would absolutely love that. There are way too many ways to experience and praise God that we simply ignore… it would be amazing to take the time and explore them.

    (and thanks- your reply gave me some great youth min. ideas on how to teach worship!)

  3. Great dreams Maria! Corporate worship is wonderful for me, I actually love it. But I give myself permission to be only with God at the same moment I am with everyone else. I love that mystery – how God can be with each person in the space individually – totally personally, and also corporately, bonding us together.

    But for me, worship in a group setting is only one tiny piece of what worship is. I love the things Krissy talked about. If worship is about coming into God’s presence, adoring Him, and surrendering to Him (among many other things) it needs to be done in many ways and places. Both corporately and alone.

    Thanks for all these thoughts.

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