Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Day 2: Firehose

Alright, it's late. I just got done talking with my good friend Sam Cullum. Randy and I are staying at his house while we are going to the Emergent Convention. It was great to sit and chat with him for a couple of hours while everybody else was in bed. There is a certain type of community that is created when there are only two people around who deeply care for the other. It's almost godly...

Anyway, today sent me head a spinning. Kevin Snow described it similarly. One word to describe it all: firehose. I felt like I was trying to take in loads of thoughts with one swallow. NOT possible. I'm sure that I'll be working through some of this stuff for a while...

There were three or four dominant thoughts from my day and many many new practical ideas for work with youth. I wrote them down in my notebook, so I won't put them all down here...but the heaviest stuff I will put on here tonight.

1. Church Life as Spiritual Formation.
Brian McLaren actually had a lesson called, Worship as Spiritual Formation. But his talk ended up reflecting the whole experience of Sunday morning, rather than just the time in the service. (Obviously, he was probably trying to stretch our conception of what "worship" really is, but it is helpful for me to use the title I gave it, and you will see why.)

McLaren suggested that everything we do somehow forms us spiritually. Everything we do is packed with meaning. And he tried to point us in a way to give the things we do meaning by giving us 10 values (I expected like eight or nine, just because it wouldn't be a neat #10 or something...) to put on the public experience...

But he went on to talk about how the Celtic Christians found meaning in the washing of the face in the morning, somehow tying the baptism rites to that morning ritual. They also found meaning in the stirring of the embers in the morning, using that time to pray that God would stir a fire in their hearts. So, McLaren suggested that maybe we give our people some significance to their entrance of the car, their arrival at church.

It made me wonder what would happen if we put signs on the doors that say something like, "When we open these doors, may our hearts be open to God's reality. When we pass through these doors, may enter God's covering safety. When we sit in our chairs, may we sit at our Father's feet." I don't know, maybe something too wordy...maybe I can shorten it a bit. I think I'll try it on a retreat or something and bring it back to mid-week stuff.

Everything we do is imbued with meaning. How do I bring that out to our youth?

2. Scripture as Word of God?
Maggi Dawn worked us all over tonight. Anglican lady from England (no kidding?). Favorite statement: When we use the term "Word of God" we have to be careful that we are meaning Jesus Christ. We must not make the mistake of making the Bible the fourth person of the trinity.

In talking with Sam after this teaching, we realized that the battle over how Scripture is handled is often whittled down to pride and control. Ask Sam about it sometime. He's a smart guy.

3. Worship leader as Worship Curator.
This came from a workshop by Mark ( something or other, who is a lead pastor at some church in NZ. It is the goal at their church to encourage all people to participate (pro-participation) in the liturgy of the week. But when I say liturgy and participate, I mean something other than what I would have understood before I came to this conference. Liturgy is the voice of the people, the life of the community. Participation is more than singing, more than reading responsively, more than standing at the right times, more than listening during the teaching. Liturgy involves every aspect of the service. Participation means actually performing a different part of the liturgy.

This church has like 15 different set aspects of their weekly service. They have people sign up to carry out one element of a service 3 months in advance. And then when the time arrives, the person will come and give the prayer of invitation, or the prayer of confession. The person can do it however she feels. She can read a poem she wrote, sing a song she heard, play a video clip she watched, call for silence. She expresses herself.

The emphasis on participation causes the attitude of anti-excellence. Because if anybody can do part of the service, then it's not always going to be pretty. But it will always reflect the liturgy, the life of that church.

From this I want to figure out ways to incorporate our students into the life of the service. I know that there are students who write poetry, students who paint, students who draw, students who make movies...I'm sure that an atmosphere has to be created for this...I think I'm going to work on it...this certainly reflects the fact that we have a creative God, a God who is happy when she sees that we are being creative like her.

So, the worship leader is a worship curator. A curator sets up an experience for others. A curator makes sure that people enter the experience. A curator understands that many will get different meanings from the same experience. This happens in non-participatory services too (think about sermons on election). A curator isn't the center of the experience.

Whew, that was long...I'm out.

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