What is your goal when you come to worship? Do you have expectations when you walk in the door? I would guess that if you are like everyone else there are certain things you assume will take place within the service. We all have things we like and things we could do without, but for the most part we come to engage in a worshipful experience. We expect to hear music, readings from the Bible, a sermon that we hope is interesting and not too long, and to receive the sacrament. These are all foundational pieces to any worship service and how they are done holds great meaning to all of us.
As worship leaders we have additional goals for each service we create and lead. Our staff brings a variety of experiences and preferences for worship styles we find to be powerful – just as Gethsemane has many rich and meaningful practices in its tradition. There are different parts and pieces we each value, but as worship planners what we hold sacred is that when people come to worship, ourselves included, we want everyone to be engaged by God.
Now, in no way do we think we control how God works through what we do, but we certainly are intentional about trying to make everything we do in worship direct us toward God. We want to use whatever means we can to connect those who come with God at work in this place. Often that means getting out of the way, but other times it means trying new innovations to connect us with God. When we do that, the tension that builds is our wanting to work with new innovations while balancing our beloved traditions and rituals. We like to think of this process as Purposeful Innovation. We do not make changes and modifications just for the sake of change or personal preference, but we do them with the intended purpose of engaging the congregation with the living spirit of God.
You have probably noticed some changes, like the use of a new liturgy, real bread at communion, relocations of the baptismal font, and various other things that we are trying for the purpose of engaging people in a new way. We want to refocus people on what they are doing, and we are trying to use a variety of teaching elements and styles to do that. We will sometimes use full liturgy and other times use “non-churchy words” that use everyday language to connect with people in a different way.
At all times we want to know what works for you and what does not, and ask that you try it for a while to see how God might be present in this new way. We know there will be some disappointment for those who have grown accustomed to a particular style, but our goal is to create dynamic worship for all who come. In no way is this “the last will and testament” of our service formats but simply an effort to explore new options. We greatly value your input and the care you have for this church. Please continue to share your thoughts with us, and thank you for your partnership in creating a worshipful community.
In Christ’s Peace,