Before I explain what I mean by "re-tooling," I should say what I do not mean. I do not mean we will change our worship in a way that it has no identity as worship. It will not morph into something unrecognizable. We will not try to make it merely an expression of cultural hipness or relevance to increase our favor with the surrounding community. We will not strip our worship of biblical truth, or present a tamed and impotent god. We will never compromise the essentials of historical, biblical Christian faith to make them more palatable to people. We will be sensitive to those who have no Christian culture, but not at the expense of what God has revealed as the ultimate Real underlying all of life.
The following are my thoughts, not necessarily everyone's on the team.
Re-tooling might mean the following for us:
1. Using music, art, drama and dance that is unfamiliar, might not be "Christian," at all or is neither based on hymns nor contemporary Christian songs. The art forms may be provoking, uncomfortable to look at, or challenging to experience. They will always be about truth, and at the very least, hint at redemption.
2. The worship "service" may not look like what people are used to experiencing: there maybe be no sermon or message, or no music. A group "object-lesson" activity may be the only thing we do when we gather. There may be be just a drama with a reflection, or a presentation with prayer. The entire gathering might be about praying together.
3. We will make more time for interaction, participation and spiritual formation-type reflection. It may be silence and quiet reflection after the message, or a group activity that expresses a concept we are working on as a community.
4. Worship may be liturgical, or spontaneous and free flowing, depending on what God wants to do on a given day.
5. Maybe worship will be about debating an issue of concern to the community and how Christian ethics, morality and principles shed light on it.
6. Some Sundays might be about a service project together in Northampton.
7. We will change the atmosphere of the worship space from time to time to reflect what God is doing. We might add reflection "stations," creative expression labs, and prayer zones.
8. Perhaps it may be an open-to-the-community meal and celebration together.
So we are looking at how we do everything regarding worship. We want freshness and aliveness to be in evidence when we gather. We really want to follow the Holy Spirit into a fresh way of worshiping so people's imaginations are enticed and opened to the God beyond their imagination. If it all becomes so predictable, people eventually tune out and sit there passively. They expect little but predictability. They are satisfied with sameness, but deadened to wonder. Or they become cemented in only one way to worship (the way we do it here), and stay closed to other ways God might be inviting then to enjoy him.
We hate that!
Re-tooling for us is the chance to create worship that will spark people toward following him with vitality and creativity in their lives. It should refresh and refocus them because they find something new and wonderful about God each time they worship him together. It should make them want to bring their friends who want little to do with him or those who say follow him. The "hour on Sunday" should be more than an obligation or a "might was well go." We believe and are searching for how to make it a reality at imagine/northampton.
May the Holy Spirit grant us favor in finding such worship.
Pray for us!