Last night I met with a stalwart group at Oak Lawn to reflect on and review their year-long worship renewal project. It marked the formal conclusion of my own involvement, though I shall hope to keep in touch with what happens next.
Key brainstorming looked at interactive methods they had used in the past year, asking what had enriched their worship, and what would they like to try. The two pastors, Michael and John, described different ways interaction had operated. Sometimes the Wednesday evening group had helped sermon preparation and evaluated the sermon afterwards. During the sermon time the preachers had sometimes stopped and invited worshippers to pray, or to answer questions in groups. Occasionally a question was provided beforehand in the bulletin with group interaction in threes or fours. Power-point slides had opened up questions too. John spoke about inviting his whole congregation to respond with him to an opening question that enabled everyone to participate in opening up Scripture (rather like Doug Pagitt's style) and sometimes they use lectio divina. People showed appreciation for many of these different ways of being involved.
Moving on to what they would like to try they gave some interesting responses:
-blogging and using facebook or a forum on the church website
-more lectio divina.
-unified worship service
-involvement of children
-devotional help for worshippers to follow through the sermon theme during the week
-encouragement that builds each other up.
One lady pleaded at the end that something fresh might happen after all this talk. "We are good at talking about things, but when are we going to act differently?" That's always the sobering challenge for Christian groups, isn't it?
We didn't have time for my final section on evaluating worship, but I did have opportunity to preach on Luke 4:14-21 and share something of my own experience (in Cambridge) of a worshipping community that had grown into a God-given mission. Of course, I have little idea what possibilities God is calling these good people of Oak Lawn into. But I shall keep listening out for how our talking and experimenting over this past year will make a difference as they act differently for God.