Experience, enjoy, share and proclaim the transforming love of God
I had the privilege of attending a week’s training at Cliff College last month 'Pioneer Ministry: Church and Practice'. It was a stimulating week which gave me time to reflect on and gain new insights about our ministry at The Chapel. It also helped provide a clearer link between this side of my ministry and my Worship Leader training. This article aims to share a bit about what I learned.
We started with the question “What is Church?” We were asked to imagine the following scenario: “You are ship-wrecked on a desert island. There are two buildings, one is a church and one is a pub. You walk into one of the buildings. How do you know which one you are in?” We came up with some interesting answers...no doubt there are many you could add? We went on to talk about the essential elements to be able to identify as Church “One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic”.
We then explored “What is worship?”, starting from the basis that worship and mission are inseparable. We grappled with questions such as “do you have to be a follower to worship?” We then got practical, exploring different ways of worship leading and preaching within the context of a fresh expression of church. This included discussing bible passages and praying together over a meal; going on trips (cinema/art gallery etc) then discussing where we had encountered God; the use of story-telling and blogs.
Both of these sessions along with ones on subjects such as discipleship and forming ecclesiastical communities, challenged me to think deeper about our identity at The Chapel and realise how easy it is to rush into creative ideas of things to “do” without pausing to ask some fundamental questions. We have a clear vision statement “Growing loving community” but delving a bit deeper, who are we and who/what do we want to become? What sets us apart for example, from a community centre? The Enabling Group are grappling with some of these questions in order to lay firm foundations from which everything else can flow in terms of how we “do” church. Being part of the Connexion and such a supportive Circuit certainly helps as there are already marker posts in place, along with much wisdom we can draw on.
Something from the week that has captured my imagination is the concept of 'Curating worship'. The term 'curate' comes from the Latin 'curare', meaning “to care for” thus thinking of worship leading in terms of planning, preparing and creating an environment where people can meet with and worship God. Context becomes as important as content. It goes a step further than simply being interactive (where the outcome is often already planned), seeking to create a space where people can meet with God in different ways. Curating worship is not about a set style, it's simply about a different way of thinking. The principles are transferable across all styles of worship right from a traditional service through to an 'art' installation in a local park. It is an approach I think we already use to some extent within the Circuit and I hope we can continue to explore. (I can recommend some good books!).
The course rekindled my hunger to learn, reminding me how important times of study and retreat are. As Paul writes: “Keep yourself in training for a godly life...spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (GNT)
I have much more to reflect on and learn. If any of what I have shared interests you, I would love to chat and draw on your insights!