Sunday, July 29, 2007

Invitation response

I mailed invites last week to 23 people, asking them to participate in the worship planning team. I hoped to get 6 to 7 yeses from that group. I also asked them to respond by today. So far, I have 8 definite yeses, 2 want to participate, but cannot at the time planned. If we change the time to a time they can participate, then the number will be 10. Then, I've received only 4 definite nos. One person has said maybe, but can't commit just yet because her brother is in ICU right now.
(quick prayer for her and her brother: Lord, healer of all ills, I pray that you surround my friend and her brother now with your healing arms. If it is your will that he join you in heaven, comfort his family and give them strength to give you glory in all things. In Jesus' name.)

I've not even heard from 9 people!

The response to this is just overwhelming. I can't even begin to describe how encouraging this is for me. And scary at the same time. Now that all these people are committed, it really has to happen. ACK!!!!

I've added a couple of things to the full 6 week outline which I will change in the earlier post very shortly, as well as those gastly colors in the previous post. They work well in Word when the background is white, but they're blinding in this format.

I know there are a couple of people looking at my blog cause the counter gives you away :). So, please feel free to come out of lurkdom and comment, suggest, encourage, etc. I can use all the encouragement and prayers I can get my hands on, so keep it comin.'

Class #1

Here is a more fleshed out outline for Class #1

Class 1 notes:

  • Welcome and opening worship time (15 min)
  • Explanation of the purpose of the team and training time (15 min)
  • Timeline and other practical information (5 min)
  • Remembering exercise – 8 min to think about previous worship experiences followed by discussion (25 min total)
  • Overview of topics to be covered (5 min)
  • Distribution of reading and other materials (2 min)
  • Assignment of breakfast duties (2 min)
  • Closing prayer (2 min)


The Lord be with you

And also with you

Open our lips, oh Lord

And our moths shall proclaim your praise

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever


Scripture and perhaps one or two sentences on this scripture

Prayer (either regular, or prayer exercise like in McFee’s book)


Benediction/Sending into study

Explanation of the purpose of the team and training time: The purpose of the training phase for the worship planning team is to equip the members of the team with understanding of and passion for worship of Almighty God. The preparation process will ground the participants in biblical, historical and theological foundations of worship as well as provide resources and tools for planning worship.

What is worship? (Ask the question, and discuss the answers). Worship definitions from different sources:

1. Worship is a verb – Robert Webber

2. 3 ways to examine this put forth by James White:

a. Phenomenological – what exactly do Christians do when they gather to worship.

b. Abstract definitions – what have other scholars said worship is.

c. Key words that Christians use in many languages to describe worship

3. Worship is a celebration of God’s mighty deed of salvation in Jesus Christ – Bob Webber

4. God speaks – we respond

5. Worship is a rehearsal for what it means to live out God’s kingdom here on earth. We learn in worship how to pray, how to sing God’s praises, how to sit at table with our fellow humans, how to share God’s peace with others, how to listen for God’s word in our life and how to respond to that word with actions inspired by that word.

6. Authentic worship is nothing less than a personal encounter with the Living God. – Bob Rognlien. I would add that one encounters the Living God through many different ways, and possibly the greatest way we encounter God is through each other.

7. worship is an act of Thanksgiving

8. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:15-17

9. It’s a school for learning to celebrate a shared life – Plantinga and Rozeboom in Discerning the Spirits (pg. 125)

10. Worship is a narrative engagement with the Triune God – Plantinga and Rozeboom (pg. 126)

11. Ascribing worth to God. Worship is an encounter with God in response to God’s promised presence in Jesus Christ (through the power of the Holy Spirit [my addition]) – Stake, The ABCs of Christian Worship

12. Worship is personal – it is your response to God’s initiative. Worship is communal – God’s call is to all people, and we respond to God through relationships with one another. God is a relationship – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

13. worship flows from the deepest human impulse – Byars, Christian Worship, pg 2

14. Christian worship celebrates Christ’s victory over death and evil through his crucifixion and resurrection.

What does it mean to participate:

1. definition from the Oxford English Dictionary on-line:

a. 1) The action or fact of having or forming part of something; the sharing of something.

b. 2) The fact or condition of holding or sharing something in common; partnership, fellowship.

c. 3) The process or fact of sharing in an action, sentiment, etc.; (now esp.) active involvement in a matter or event, esp. one in which the outcome directly affects those taking part.

What does it mean to participate in worship? (Ask the question and discuss the answers):

1. Do exercise described in Jean’s paper. Ask two people to stand and greet each other as general acquaintances on the street. Then, ask one of them to show honor to the other. Finally, ask one of them to worship the other. – discuss the difference in action between the three. See the growing involvement of more energy, more of the body, more passion directed toward the one being greeted, then honored and then worshiped.

2. Participation in worship is more than just the bare definition of participation. It is an intentional desire to take part in. Not just physically or mentally go through the motions, but an intention to meet God in worship

3. Worship “is an intentional response of praise, thanksgiving and adoration to the God, the One revealed in the Word, made known and accessible to us in Jesus Christ and witnessed in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” Morganthaler, 47)

4. “The personal motive for worship is crucial to the level of participation experienced therein.” Erickson (3)

5. Participation is the intention on the part of the worshiper, is a relationship between us and God and us and each other instead of a one way street (the performance mentality), participation stems not from a desire to get something, but to respond to something – God’s initiation in our lives.

If that’s what it means to participate in worship, then what responsibility lies on us as a worship planning team? As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Ultimately, a persons level of participation is up to them and the Holy Spirit. But, we have a responsibility to provide space, encouragement and tools to the congregation – we have to lead the horse to the water. If our worship services encourage passivity, then the congregation will learn to be passive. Our culture of entertainment teaches people that already, so we must work to overcome that lethargy.

Remembering exercise:

1. recall – recall a corporate worship experience that had an impact on you. Describe the event in as much detail as you can.

2. reflect – what about that worship service had an impact on you? What meanings did you take from it? Was your life outside of worship somehow changed? Why do you think it sticks with you today?

3. result – what can we say about worship based upon these reflections? What do these experiences and reflections tell us is important about and in worship?

Throughout the next 5 weeks we’ll look at worship from a couple of different standpoints:

1. Biblical – what does the Bible have to say about worship and participation. If we truly are hotwired to worship God, then surely the Bible will have some clear direction for us.

2. Theological – this is closely tied to Biblical in that it is our understanding of what God says about worship.

3. Historical – what does 2000+ years of worship have to say to us about worship, what elements of worship have stood the test of time and various cultural settings? And, more specifically, what does our Reformed tradition tell us about worship. What did Calvin think about it? What does the Book of Order say about it, and how is that different from or the same as what Presbyterian Churches have done in the past and are doing now.

Then, we’ll explore the structure of worship, elements of worship, the arts (music, dance, visual, language, etc) in worship and tools for worship planning.

Each week we’ll begin with a time of worship. If it’s true that worship “is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed… it is the font from which all her power flows” and it is true that the “chief end of man is to worship and enjoy God forever” then what we do here in class must begin with worship and be empowered by the Holy Spirit through our worship so that the worship we work toward to eventually design will be guided and empowered by God in celebration of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In preparation for next week, please read…

Each week, I’d like for 2 (or more, depending on the number of people present) people to volunteer to bring breakfast for the group. Sharing a meal together as we worship and study will help to bond our community. Each person taking a turn to provide the meal will foster participation and investment in the group. Sign up on the sheet indicating which day you’ll provide the meal. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but brought with the understanding that you are helping to nourish this particular part of the Body of Christ.

Color key:

Gathering – coming together as the body of Christ in worship
Word – lecture, group discussion of days topic
Response – activity that stems from that word
Sending – preparation and instructions for the week and next meeting, closing prayer

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Outline of 6 week study sessions

Class Outline:

Through out the whole 6 weeks we must remember to begin and end with God. Worship is first and foremost about, to, for, directed at and focused on God.

Major areas I want to cover: biblical foundation for worship, historical foundation of worship with focus on the reformed tradition, book of order, order of worship/elements of worship, church year, artistic expression in worship, worship planning tools

Minor areas that should be found throughout in the various major areas: multi-generational worship, worship that is friendly to families,

Elements to be included in each class session:

  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Evaluation of the previous Sunday’s worship service – not in order to make changes, or to criticize, but to get into the practice of directed observation and meaning creating (see Jane Rogers Vann)
  • All subjects will have as a focal point the importance of participation, definition of participation and evaluation of participation

Overarching goal for this team (not the same as for the project):

Class 1, August 14th:

  • Welcome and opening worship time (15 min)
  • Explanation of the purpose of the team and training time (15 min)
  • Timeline and other practical information (5 min)
  • Bryan’s exercise – 15 min to think about previous worship experiences followed by discussion (25 min total)
  • Overview of topics to be covered (5 min)
  • Distribution of reading and other materials (2 min)
  • Assignment of breakfast duties (2 min)
  • Closing prayer (2 min)

Class 2, August 21st:

  • Welcome and opening worship time (15 min)
  • Discussion of homework (focused on post-modern movement and the church’s need to keep up with the changing world)
  • Biblical and theological foundations for worship
  • Evaluation and discussion of Sunday, August 19th
  • Explanation/distribution of home study for next week
  • Closing Prayer

Class 3, August 28th:

  • Welcome and opening worship time (15 min)
  • Historical Foundations, with focus on the Reformed Tradition
  • Church Year and formational possibilities
  • Evaluation and discussion of Sunday, August 26th
  • Explanation/distribution of home study for next week
  • Closing Prayer

Class 4, September 4th:

  • Welcome and opening worship time (15 min)
  • Book of Order and what it says about worship
  • Elements of worship and worship structure (4 fold and other possibilities)
  • Evaluation and discussion of Sunday, September 2nd
  • Explanation/distribution of home study for next week
  • Closing Prayer

Class 5, September 11th:

  • Welcome and opening worship time (15 min)
  • The arts in worship (visual, musical, dance, language etc.)
  • Worship planning tools
  • Evaluation and discussion of Sunday, September 9th
  • Explanation/distribution of home study for next week
  • Closing Prayer

Class 6, September 18th

  • Welcome
  • Worship panning tools and processes
  • Review, questions, clean up
  • Closing worship (30 min)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Random thoughts as I study

No rhyme or reason, and less organization to this post... just random thoughts. (I won't bore you with excuses for my long absence)

Participation is a matter of intention. You can physically go through motions of standing, sitting, talking, singing, dancing, parading, eating, bowing, etc and not participate. When I talk about participation I mean an attitude of intentional participation. “Worship is an expression of the community, not something done to the people by the worship leaders… I have been privileged to experience the electricity of a congregation that enters the sanctuary anticipating how God will meet them in a unique way. Worship there and elsewhere overflows with life in the Spirit.” *

I know this is true because of my experience at IWS. And, it doesn’t happen there because of great planning, perfect music, and just the right structure. It happens there because every person walking into that space is expecting to worship God. Not expecting to be entertained, or even expecting to come out of it a better person – a noble sentiment and one not without foundation. But, each person enters into worship knowing that they are, themselves, worshiping God in the community, fully participating to the best of their abilities at that given moment.

As time continues to move and we leave our modern sensibilities behind more and more every day, we must be present to the new understanding of the world around us in this postmodern time. We do not change the gospel – it is the one constant. We change how we can access the richness of the gospel, we change how we experience and change how we incorporate the gospel into our lives. No longer will the model of a good sermon and a couple of songs work. It worked before – lives were changed, the world was changed and progress was made toward the fulfillment of God’s kingdom on earth. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the perfect example of how wonderfully the gospel worked in the modern era. That man could speak and move mountains! The people listened to his words and their hearts were moved to action. It’s not working any more, though. More and more we need to not only hear the gospel, but to experience. We don’t experience it any more just through our ears and intellect. For truth to speak to us, we must hear it, feel it, taste it, see it, DO IT. We crave to taste and see that the Lord is good. Instead of trying to parse out every tiny piece of God, we need more and more the mystery of God.

*Greg Ogen, The New Reformation: Returning the Ministry to the People of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990) as quoted by Steve Zerbe in his thesis, Integrating a Strategic Worship Advisory Team in the Worshiping Community of Warsaw, Indiana Wesleyan Church (Thesis for the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies, 2004, page 112.