Today’s post is written by Chris Logan, Pastor of Worship Arts at Community Covenant Church in Lenexa, KS.
Have you ever considered how worship gatherings fit into the context of discipleship?
The connection is actually quite strong. To be honest, I had never really thought about it much until I was at a conference a few months ago, and Mindy Caliguire spent a great deal of time talking about discipleship (it turns out that’s what she does at Willow Creek). One of the things she mentioned was that discipleship, while it’s often looked at as a small group or one-on-one sort of responsibility, can be a large group practice. We learn and grow together not only as we read or have conversations, but also as we engage corporately, as the combined voices and minds and hearts of many.
It’s a perspective that should change the way we approach crafting worship gatherings.
For one, the music takes on a new significance; it’s a part of the process of forming all of us into the image of Jesus. These are not a random assortment of songs we enjoy singing; they must be carefully chosen and rehearsed. Furthermore, every part of the music – not just the words – must be carefully thought through; lyrics incorrectly paired with style or flavor changes the way we tell the story. The order of music – and of the whole gathering, from music to liturgy to message, even to the announcements – matters because in the environment that we choose to create people will have a better chance (or not) of connecting with the Creator.
What we are doing is helping people make connections, because that’s what a good story does. In the process of crafting a worship gathering as story, we can help our congregations connect what they learned last week to the next week; we can help them connect to creation and to each other; we can help them connect to their Maker and Redeemer.
The thing about connections is that they don’t happen to us; we have to participate in them. Nobody can connect me to God without my permission and conscious engagement – nor to my neighbor. Connections – true, meaningful, lasting, deep connections – happen in the midst of discovery. On some fundamental level, we do not own those connections unless we discover them for ourselves.
Which begs a question: what story are we telling?
Does the story we are telling in and with our gatherings help make those connections, that discovery? To help others to make discoveries, should we be giving answers, or asking more questions? Is it possible that by providing simple answers (how complex could those answers possibly be with only an hour or less to give them?) we’re robbing those in our care of the joy of discovery?
More to the point, what is the nature of the content? If the gospel we preach is so revolutionary and could change the world, it’s a dangerous story to tell. Do we tell dangerous stories or sing dangerous songs? Since God is always advancing towards us – the gospel is always advancing – our gatherings are one of the places that heaven and earth can intersect, overlap, collide.
… if we let them.