Sunday, February 04, 2007

postmodern worship gatherings

"Why “Post-modern” worship gatherings? We are rapidly moving from a modern to a postmodern world and from a Judeo-Christian nation to a post-Christian nation. As a result, we need to develop new approaches to ‘church.” This involves a shift in our worldview, ecclesiology, and epistemology. Emerging generations are growing up in a completely postmodern world. This drastically affects how they think-it’s not just a change in styles or preferences. It incredibly affects people’s spiritual viewpoints, their understanding of ‘God,” and their thoughts about ‘Christianity.” It affects how people process what they learn and how they think. It affects what forms of communication they use, how they make decisions, and they relate to one another. This affects the way we design worship services, and why aesthetics and the creation of a ‘sacred space’ are now important. Preaching must change, evangelism must change, and spiritual formation itself must change. Even leadership needs to change because of this cultural shift.

Some common values in postmodern worship gatherings-
Emerging worship moves away from a spectator type of gathering.
There is an organic design to the worship gathering. (opposite of linear)
A sacred space is created for the worship gathering."

Quotes from Emerging Worship, by Dan Kimball, Zondervan

What strikes me about the 'sacred space' issue is that in many ways I've been structuring sacred spaces for worship since I started leading worship. The room I've been in as the worship leader has struck me from the beginning, even as a worship leader for our BSU... We tried to make changes in the room, not just "shall we place the chairs facing forward or sideways today?", but bringing stuff in, changing the lighting... I wish I'd had more awareness of this back then 'cuz now I'm more aware than ever that it can make a huge difference, and I wish I could be working on this...

I've got two experiences that direct relate to the sacred space issue, one good and one bad.
Good experience:
When we lived in Seattle, Jake and I had the opportunity to work with Melinda Reed, the worship strategist for the Puget Sound Baptist Association, on this really cool Association-wide worship meeting. The meeting was called 'One', and was the first of what Melinda hoped would become an annual association event focusing on worship and using music, movement and the creative arts. I helped Melinda create the space and taught a group from our church some of the sign language/creative movement from a song that Company had used. We used candles and a huge tobacco cloth backdrop with colored lighting for different moods to create a 'sacred space'. It was WAY cool.

Bad experience:
The older congregation we worked with at Rose Hill Baptist had a HORRIBLE worship space. I honestly don't know if I've been in an uglier worship space... The building itself was a white brick squat little building. Inside was dim with yellowing lights and cheap dark 60's/70's fake wood paneling on the walls. It had old red and gold patterned thin carpeting. The foyer had old dark green linoleum and one tiny little yellowish light so that you walked into a dark dim area, and NO-ONE greeted you. And the church smelled bad- kind of musty, dusty and moldy... It was like visiting one of your great aunts and not in a good way...

One of my favorite experiences as a worship leader is actually from my first church out of seminary. Jake & I got to plan a Lord's Supper service that took place outside. Since our church was located around Lake Sammamish we met at a family's backyard. He was a gardener for Home Depot or Lowe's and had a gorgeous yard, trees, plants... It was a special service.

Another of my favorite experiences as a worship leader came from Celebration Church in Auburn. Our church was in the process of looking for a pastor, so no-one was there to say "let's do a Good Friday service." So Jake & I kind of ended up saying we'd do it. And we wrote out this long involved script-like service with music, readings and elements of the supper. We brought in blue lights and set up every plant in the church and some from home on stage to look like a garden. We kept the lights low and brought everyone forward into a half-circle... The material led us through Jesus' night in the garden, the arrest, the betrayals, and the crucifixion. We used video of Jesus' death from the Jesus movie... Since I'd planned it, it's hard for me to say, "yup, that was a success", but we had other people tell us that it was, people I trust.

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