Ok, I’m really beginning to like what I’ve put now. There is just one focus and that is creative worship in services.
My presentation will focus upon criteria G Faith show an ability to reflect critically on their faith and make connections between faith and contemporary life.
In my presentation I would like to discuss ways for connecting worship with everyday life through creative worship.
I consider that worship is about being with God and about being prepared to go out to work in the world. It is a time of adoration and also transformation as we commune with God. Either consciously or unconsciously worship changes us as God’s spirit speaks to our spirit.
Yet, is our worship always meaningful and relative to our everyday lives? Should worship make connections with the so called mundane world?
Actions speak louder than words and regular services already involve the participation of the congregation through being asked to stand, sit or kneel through to even shaking hands. Actions matter and have a profound effect. The central focus of our worship is Holy Communion, the ultimate point of interaction where the reality of God becomes powerfully present. In turn, this act of remembrance becomes the initiator of further action as we go out into the world.
I have used various interactive, sensory and creative activities during an informal service I have led over the past year. These activities ranged from writing prayers, projected images, lighting candles, reading pre-set prayers, led meditation, music, making paper aeroplanes to just being silent in front of smouldering incense.
In Matthew 22.37 Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind.” I believe this commandment can be explored through using a range of interactive creative stimulus. Creative worship allows people with different learning styles to engage with worship in ways that makes sense to them by being enabled to relate worship to their everyday experiences.
Fleming’s VAK model is widely used to categorize various types of learner which I believe can be related to worshippers. For instance, kinaesthetic learners prefer to learn by doing and so would enjoy more physically interactive events such as writing prayers or lighting candles. Whereas visual learners prefer visual aids such as drawing, projected images and hand-outs. Auditory learners benefit most through listening and so would gain much from led meditations, talks or group discussions.
However, it is important to bear in mind that this exciting, liberative, creative form of worship may distress those who enjoy the read-response liturgical nature of C of E worship. They may feel uncomfortable with any deviation from the book-bound culture they are familiar with. Therefore a degree of sensitivity is required when organizing worship.
But there is one activity that may suit people that relates to book-bound culture yet also can viewed as exciting as it is deliberately different to what the world expects. This activity is silence. Many people find their world so crowded by business that to have times of silence is impossible. Without silence the noise of the world can overwhelm. Our worship can offer times to just be still and silent. Silence is much needed because to truly listen to what’s going on in ourselves and then can God be heard. As Mother Teresa said when asked what she said during her prayers. She answered, “I listen.” The interviewer then asked, “Well then, what does God say?” Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, “He listens.” Yet to someone new to practicing silent pray being absolutely silent seems to be impossible. So it is helpful to use tried and tested techniques such as the Ignatius Examen. This technique gives a structured approach that aids silent prayer by being taken through the steps that help them to reflect on their past day, any emotions that have arisen and focus upon one point that seems important. Having a structured approach enables the person to focus on God rather than worrying about how or what they should be praying about. Thus they are freed really experience silence.
To conclude, my vision for connecting faith and contemporary life is through the use of creative sensory activities in worship that correlates with styles of learning. I believe such worship when considerately constructed can support the deepening of our relationship and growth as Disciples of Christ.
1. How important is it for our shared liturgy to be accessible?
2. How useful is understanding different learning styles for considering worship activities?
3. Is silence an interactive activity?
4. How important is it to be rooted in a certain tradition/style of worship?
5. How do you feel about enabling people to explore developing their own forms of worship away from the church?
6. When, if ever, is the use of sensory worship appropriate?