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Missional Worship


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I've been reading a book called EXILES - Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, by Michael Frost.

 

In it, he presents the idea of a Christian community that comes together to work on mission/service projects together, thus creating a liminal experience for the group. This is instead of weekly worship services. The group may worship together, but it is not weekly.

 

Does anyone have experience with this kind of group? Does it work? I have been trying to get "contemporary" worship going at our Methodist Church for about 10 years now. It seems to me it is basically traditional worship with a more casual format and newer music.

 

Mission-based worship seems an exciting potential to me! We are redesigning our church service, and I have asked if we can mix it up a bit -- maybe an early sermon with a discussion afterward one week, a service project another, a Sunday devoted just prayer and music, etc.

 

My church seems to understand that church needs to change in order to be more relevant/in tune with people's lives now, but we don't know what churching together will look like in the future.

 

Ideas?

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First let me say I am jealous of you because you are active in a local church. My church continues to be CCC in Michigan even though I live in California. I receive their worship services weekly via DVD. But I have been more involved in the past and I try to see what others are doing around the country.

 

You may be interested in looking at the Community of Hope in Tulsa OK. You can learn much about them on their website. They are definitely a group that started out first with a mission and then became a church. They started out United Methodist and when excluded because of their mission they joined the UCC. I love their symbols like the “broken-made-whole chalice”. I love the fact that they are committed to spending 50 per cent of their income on missions outside their walls. They are one of the best examples of a mission based progressive church that I know of.

 

I love your idea of “mission based worship”. The mission needs to be specific, concrete and easily understood by the group. I hate wishy washy mission statements that can mean anything you want them to mean like “We will follow Christ”. You may want to do what the Community of Hope did and find that mission first and then the people who come can develop whatever worship or study activities that they want.

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In it, he presents the idea of a Christian community that comes together to work on mission/service projects together, thus creating a liminal experience for the group. This is instead of weekly worship services. The group may worship together, but it is not weekly.

 

I would argue that the mission/service projects they are doing *is* worship! I don't really think God cares about singing anymore than God cares about animal sacrifices...

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I would argue that the mission/service projects they are doing *is* worship! I don't really think God cares about singing anymore than God cares about animal sacrifices...

The god that required animal sacrifices is dead (there was a Time magazine on this). But God lives within the worship at the Community of Hope (and other places). I believe in the power of worship. But that God is beyond prescriptions that would say you have to do this (like missions or worship) in order to experience/be in relationship with that God. That God can be experienced through singing as my wife will testify. But you don’t have to sing to experience God.

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I would argue that the mission/service projects they are doing *is* worship! I don't really think God cares about singing anymore than God cares about animal sacrifices...

OA, The author and I would both agree with the statemtent that the service is worship. Music is a way I connect with God, but I'm getting pretty tired of the time spent on production of worship services....

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I see how in the beginning I talked about service instead of worship. What I meant was a traditional understanding of corporate worship. The book reacts agains worship that is platform-led, safe and repetitive... That is exciting to me. It suggests we should create worship experiences that emphasize congregational involvement, with multiple opportunities for group interaction.

 

Meeting for a weekly meal, gathering and blessing each other, listening to God, sharing with one other anything God has revealed that week, shared learning, etc. Sounds good!

 

David, if you're ever in Fort Collins, CO, come hang out with us!

 

I'm going to check out the Community of Hope link now... Thanks!

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Just so you know, I'm embarrassed that Community of Hope had to leave United Methodism because they were celebrating the commitment of loving adults! I love their page on missions, but I haven't found a page on what to expect in worship. I see it is from 6-8 on Sunday nights. Have you been to a service, David?

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Just so you know, I'm embarrassed that Community of Hope had to leave United Methodism because they were celebrating the commitment of loving adults! I love their page on missions, but I haven't found a page on what to expect in worship. I see it is from 6-8 on Sunday nights. Have you been to a service, David?

Thank you for the invitation to Fort Collins!!

 

No need to be "embarrassed" about being a United Methodist. I personally appreciate those who are able to stay within denominations that are struggling with these issues. I can not do it but I know it has to be done. I saw in the paper today that California Bishop Melvin Wheatley died. Bishop Wheatley appointed the first openly gay pastor in the United Methodist Church in 1982. I see in the article that he was also active in Colorado. He was descibed as "the Martin Luther of the Methodist Church. He freed all of us to be less prejudiced, biased and dogmatic". Bless those in the United Methodist Church who have followed Bishop Wheatley's lead.

 

I have not been to Tulsa to experience the Community of Hope but the Community of Hope came to the Jesus Seminar as one of several groups in a weekend devoted to how worship can be done. I was one of many that were just "blown away". Here was a group of "dry" academics with tears in their eyes. They did nothing "special"---used the powerpoint and recorded music---really "low tech"---but it was the people---the people so committed to their mission and each other---people who created symbols that were powerful for them---people who created rituals that were powerful for them. It was powerful and a great example of the power of worship.

Edited by David
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The god that required animal sacrifices is dead (there was a Time magazine on this). But God lives within the worship at the Community of Hope (and other places). I believe in the power of worship. But that God is beyond prescriptions that would say you have to do this (like missions or worship) in order to experience/be in relationship with that God. That God can be experienced through singing as my wife will testify. But you don't have to sing to experience God.

 

 

Connecting to God is something different than worship. I've no doubt that liturgy, singing, ritualistic prayers connect some people to God. But connecting to God is not what worship is. Worship is paying respect or giving honor. Connecting to God is for people, worship is for God.

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I don't relate to your definition of worship (although the dictionary will support your definition). I don't experience a god that requires the giving of respect or honor. Look how the Community of Hope defines worship:

 

"We define worship at Community of Hope as "practicing the kin-dom until we know it by heart." "Kin-dom" is a word we use to subvert the hierarchical understanding of kingdom with an image/vision we discover in Jesus' parables--an image of a 'community of companions that are no longer separated by the social/political/economic lines that culture uses to define and maintain norms. What we mean when we say 'kin-dom' is community here and now, real-life community grounded in the ethics and values of right-relationship: mutuality. trust, justice, and compassion."

 

I would add to this but my point is that the Community of Hope shows how a mission can define worship. The dictionary is ever changing.

Edited by David
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I don't relate to your definition of worship (although the dictionary will support your definition). I don't experience a god that requires the giving of respect or honor. Look how the Community of Hope defines worship:

 

"We define worship at Community of Hope as "practicing the kin-dom until we know it by heart." "Kin-dom" is a word we use to subvert the hierarchical understanding of kingdom with an image/vision we discover in Jesus' parables--an image of a 'community of companions that are no longer separated by the social/political/economic lines that culture uses to define and maintain norms. What we mean when we say 'kin-dom' is community here and now, real-life community grounded in the ethics and values of right-relationship: mutuality. trust, justice, and compassion."

 

I would add to this but my point is that the Community of Hope shows how a mission can define worship. The dictionary is ever changing.

 

 

I agree whole heartedly. I don't relate to a god who requires worship in the traditional sense, either. I like the definition you give much better. Unfortunately "worship" is one of those words that carries with it its own meaning and understanding. Again, I'm all for redefining it, but when I talk to others or they talk to me about worship they aren't using the re-definition of the word.

 

I also much prefer a god who is honored by us doing for others than by being sung to or prayed to.

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If we can leave behind the traditional definition of worship related to a god who needs to be “sung to” or “prayed to” I would lift up God who “sings with”. I would like to imagine a group with the mission of offering the best music in the area as “worship”. The local Presbyterian church in Sacramento has some of that when they offer quality music every Wednesday. People who love music come to that who would not want to “sing to” a god that requires honor. But you are right OA they don’t call it “worship”.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest wayfarer2k
I also much prefer a god who is honored by us doing for others than by being sung to or prayed to.

 

This rings true for me also, OA.

 

In my thread about "Jesus versus Paul", I posted a fairly short passage from Matthew 25 where Jesus basically equates knowing and loving him with how we treat others, especially those with needs. John's epistle echoes much the same message, that if we don't love others, we don't really love God.

 

Along with others in this thread, I don't see "worship" as standing in one spot, my hands raised in the air, saying, "Oh, Load, You are so big! Absolute humongous! We are all really impressed down here, I can tell you!" :lol: To me, a god who needs constant praise and proping up has a serious self-worth problem!

 

And that is what I primarily relate "worship" to -- worth. To me, worship is the amount of worth that attribute to something in my life. Some people worship things that just are not worth very much. They might deny it, saying that they are not bowing down or offering sacrifices to it. But if they are giving a significant amount of their time and life to it, it is still worship.

 

This radical idea that I came across a few years ago, also reflected in this thread, is that if we truly want to love God, we must love others. If we love God, then that love must be demonstrated in loving what God created. This includes ourselves, others, and our world. If God is our Creator (even in a metaphorical or metaphysical sense, then love and worship of him is best demonstrated in having compassion on what he creates. If we don't do that, I doubt that we love him.

 

I know some Christians who go to church from 9-12 on Sunday and feel that they have "worshipped God." Maybe they had an emotional experience, or a feeling of gratefulness, or a sense of "thin places". There is nothing inherently wrong with these, IMO. But if they don't have compassion on anyone the rest of the week, all the "anyones" that God so loves, then I think their worship is more self-centered than centered in God.

 

But if we have love and compassion for others that leads us to make a difference, even if it is only in small ways, then I suspect that is the way in which God is worshipped best.

 

bill

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Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car.

 

I agree that loving others is the main way we express love to God. Going to church has helped me feel united with others in that movement. When the news is so negative, it is good to get that weekly dose of hope.

 

People go to church for many different reasons. Some border on the superstitious, in my opinion.

 

Here are some of my first thoughts about what our community can do with our Sunday mornings than singing songs every week....(even though I love the music and play keyboard and sing)

 

Prepare a breakfast at an economically disadvantaged school that our church already volunteers with. Read books 1:1 with kids in the library afterward.

 

Do spring lawn cleanup at Harmony House, a safehouse for children awaiting hearings on court cases.

 

Meet somewhere fun (like Rollerland), have a short teaching and then have discussion over skating.

 

I've opened it up to brainstorming on our CrossWalk facebook page, but I'd take ideas from anyone here, too...

 

Thanks!

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Here are some if the ideas I am collecting on facebook so far. I'm looking for more, so jump in....

 

A disadvantaged elementary school- serve breakfast on a Sunday morning to any families that come, then read with the kids if they want.

 

A sermon and discussion over roller skating?

 

safehouse for kids waiting for court decisions - spring yard cleanup?

 

Sing along in the city park - when the weather is nice.

 

Watch snippets of "Fireproof" and then start a discussion group for adults.

 

Baking something (burritos, cookies, etc.) together in the church kitchen during our hour and selling them afterward to the church for a good cause.

 

Serving lunch at the mission.

 

Picking up litter

 

Helping out senior citizens with basic household needs like raking, cleaning gutters, painting, rug shampooing, etc.

 

Playing some of our music to homeless persons at the shelter or at the new Center for Hope.

 

Visiting the hospital or the jail - music at either place might be good.

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Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car.

 

I love it!

 

But I also want to post some observations on the general tenor of this thread. I attend services almost every week, and am involved in one or more activities with the congregation each month (session, social justice team [it used to be called a committee], food prep at the local homeless shelter, etc.). I also go to adult study, so am there from about 9:45 a.m. to maybe 12:30 p.m. And that doesn't make me a Christian, because by most people's definition, particularly as regards doctrine, I am not one. But I go mostly to be fed. I said to someone a week or so ago that I am at church on Sunday for much the same reason that I show up at the dinner table at six each evening. And though what I get to feed on may be different in one case than in the other, the need is similar.

 

But note that I wrote "services" and not worship. I don't know what sort of deity exists, its purpose or its capacities. But I do choose to orient my thinking toward a power that supports and encourages peace and justice, and I share that orientation with the folks I see on Sunday morning. Maybe it helps that there are only 20 or 30 each Sunday. Actually I wish there were more.

 

Ours is a "More Light Presbyterian" congregation, which means we accept all people in full participation in the life of the congregation without regard to, among other things, sexual orientation or gender identity. We are now about to embark on a "Dedicated Outreach Partnership" with an organization that provides support and advocacy for homeless people. I don't know how that compares to the example from the first post, but I see similarities.

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I tried to respond to your question, but couldn't get the posting function to work. Then I emailed the management and they told me the message boards were closed. But I thought I would try again, and so far it seems to be ok.

 

I don't call what we do on Sunday morning "worship," as I don't think that is what is going on, but the service is fairly conventional, and most people who are there call it worship. My point was more that, for me, relating to one another, sharing a weekly common experience, and then being in the world in some useful fashion is what is important. If folks want to think of that as worship it's ok with me, though.

Edited by grampawombat
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