Last night I led a seminar for those responsible for leading worship at my local church - First Baptist Wheaton. I was asked to highlight some issues from my book in order to help them focus on planning Fall worship 'to the glory of God.'
It was remarkably generous of them to give up three hours in their busy lives with a willingness to reflect. And what a risk there is in genuine reflection! Reflective practice involves adult learners who have already developed expertise in being open to critique their work even while they are at work. At its best, it will allow plenty of safe space to consider afresh issues that are often taken for granted. And there are many of those unconsidered aspects of worship planning. Some of them are huge - like the role of the Holy Spirit or understanding of the missional church.
Many are smaller scale. In answer to a question last night about the offering, I was reminded of a colleague of mine who was guest preacher in a local church. It was their habit as the offering was brought to the front for the congregation to stand and sing the doxology. As people slowly got to their feet with little sense of joy or purpose to do their usual, the preacher abruptly stopped them: "What are you doing?" he said. There was stunned surprise. Wasn't it obvious that they were singing the doxology? But, maybe, it had become so commonplace they needed reminding that returning gifts to an extraordinarily generous God is a big deal. I am not sure whether the preacher was invited back (!) and whether this is the most productive form of reflective practice. But, I believe, reflective practice leads to deeper people doing deeper things.
I don't know whether reflective practice will arise from any of that wide range of issues I raised last night. It takes time, honesty, love, and patience. I pray that it will!