Expanding Our Expressions Of Worship
Four years ago we formed a creative team at our church—Journey Church in Franklin, Tennessee. The team included a graphic designer, a producer, musicians, painters, and pastors. We called ourselves “Cartography” because we were mapping the creative path of worship for our community.
We wanted to move beyond just music and the spoken word to incorporating other expressions of worship such as painting, prayer, communion, writing, giving, and silence.
All of this resulted from asking, “Would people experience greater freedom in worship if they were given more ways in which to express their worship?”
That one question fueled our group and led to even more questions…
What if the communion table were always available? What if we created a space in the room where people could go and pray? What if we made offering “baskets” a part of the response time so that the worshiper could give at the moment he/she felt God compelling them to do so? What if worship was actually left up to the worshiper and not the worship leader? Would we finally experience true freedom in worship?
The answer to that final question is:
Since expanding the way that we worship and the very way we view and define worship, we have watched our community grow out of a place of discomfort and into a space of freedom. Music is now only one of the ways that we worship at Journey. During response times within our gatherings, you will see people scattered around the room. They may be lined up to take the Lord’s Supper. They might be coming forward, often with their families, to give offerings. Some may be kneeling and praying, alone or with others. You might see some journaling while others are standing and singing. And some may be sitting quietly.
As worship leaders and church leaders, we understand that this approach may not be the solution for everyone. But, we have learned that it is important to begin asking questions and exploring the answers together.
Mark Pierson, a pastor and author from New Zealand, talks about this in a book titled The Art of Curating Worship. His premise is that to be our most effective in facilitating and planning a worship gathering of any kind, we must answer two questions based on the mission and people whom we are leading. First, we must ask ourselves “what is church?” and then, “what is worship?”
If we can answer these basic questions for our communities and the groups we lead, then we will begin to see unique ways in which God is calling us to worship. Our churches, and especially, our youth groups, are filled with creative people. And our corporate, collective worship should reflect this, though it may (and should!) look very different depending on each community.
Psalm 149:4 tells us that “the Lord takes delight in His people.” He finds joy in us and in our expressions of love for Him. Please consider exploring new ways to express your worship, both personally and in corporate gatherings as you lead others.
Remember, there is great freedom in being allowed to try new things even if—and sometimes, especially if—they fail.