Friday, May 25, 2012

How is it with your liturgy?

One of the foundational questions (I'm told) of the Wesleyan holy club meetings was this:

How is it with your soul?
It was a question that was meant to promote a deeper understanding between people, in a small group setting to bring about trust and accountability. 

Today, I'm asking:
How is it with your liturgy?
My specific arena in ministry is worship.  Sunday morning worship, that is.  The sanctuary is the place on Sunday mornings where we the church gather, work together in prayer in various ways (pastoral prayer, song, sermon ...).  As we dive deeper together into this worship, we find that the service in which we call ourselves together is just the tip of the iceberg in what it means to call ourselves disciples of Christ.

As a crafter of worship services, my job is to get the people involved.  We do that in a lot of ways, through corporate prayer, through singing, through hearing the word proclaimed.  It's all supposed to come together in the liturgy - the work of the people.  The point is for us as worship leadership and congregation to work together, to model the church relationship with Christ, working together to praise God.  We all work together.

The problem we often face though in our consumer-driven society is that we often come to worship wondering what we're going to get ... How good is the choir going to be this week?  Is the organist going to mess up again?  I sure hope that the sermon pops this morning.  But chew on this ... don't we call them worship services?  We come together to serve, not be served, just as Christ did.  We face the problem that a former pastor of mine often phrase this way, "How do we get people to change from consumers to producers?"  But it's so easy to slip into give-me-something-now slump.

As seekers we come to Christ needing something.  Nothing wrong with that.  But how do we, the church, convert those people from just consuming in worship and study to those that are out in the community bringing other seekers to know Christ?

This leads me to my frequent quandary in worship planning and leading ... How well are the laity involved in what we do in worship on Sunday morning?  There are a number of ways that we do this, but we can always do better!  Creating room for lay-witness is essential.  We do it through musical leadership (choirs, bands), through lay speakers preaching, through ministry leaders witnessing.

But,  as said earlier, Sunday morning worship is the tip of the iceberg.  How involved are the laity in the ministry of the church?   Do the laity in your church think that the staff is just there to do what they say?  Or do staff and laity actively work together to resource one-another and glorify God through team work?

I work at an established church that's been through several different types of management, most recently through a turn where most ministries of the church were staff-driven.  That can be great, as long as the staff is doing the job of making disciples.  And it did seem to work great on the surface at the time, but our disciple-making muscles atrophied when things seemed to be going ridiculously awesome.  Now we're in a strange place, with not enough staff to fulfill the needs that were created 15 years ago, but laity that by and large aren't as motivated to dig in and do the work.

There are pockets of people that are completely ready to dive in, and that's what we're going to do.  My prayer is for there to be liturgy flowing 24/7/365 in God's Kingdom, not just on Sunday morning.

So, how is it with your liturgy?