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Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Designing Worship: Asking the best first question

In one of our recent conversations, Zion Dreamer posed some sharp practical questions about worship design. She asks,

When you meet with your design team - what is your opening question or statement?

From my observation of worship services, most worship leaders, pastors and designers approach worship with this first order question: How can we create an environment and/or shape an experience where people will encounter the presence of God?

It's not a bad question; nor is it a wrong question. I just don't think it is the right first question. What question do I ask first? Thanks for asking. Here it is:

How can we remember the Live Story of Father, Son and Holy Spirit such that we become reoriented inside of it, encounter God and engage in his mission in the World?

Can you see how these questions might lead to very different outcomes? Your thoughts?


posted by John David Walt | at 7/08/2009 04:58:00 PM



Anonymous John D. Palmer said...

Where do you think God is?

11:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous John D. Palmer said...

Who do you think God thinks you are?

11:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous John Palmer said...

Why do you think we worship God?

11:58 AM EDT  
Blogger Kendra said...

One aspect of both questions, an assumption at large that I see in communities of believers, is the expectation to encounter God during a worship service (maybe different than everyday encounters). I am not yet sure what I think about this. Is it biblical to gather so that we will encounter God. Is that the purpose of our gathering?

It will happen as believers gather, but it happens daily as we walk in the world, too.

Why is encountering God so important to us? Is it like a "proof text" for us, reminding us that we are alive, though we may not be living it during the week? Or is it because we think that Holy Spirit in me becomes more powerful when Holy Spirit in many of us gather together (exponential power created)?

Where does this emphasis come from? It happens naturally with God in our midst, but is it essential as a component of our first questions in designing worship? Do we plan it?

I struggle with this a lot. The Lord has planted me in a congregation where there is very little expression by emotion or movement. Worship times with others at church are mostly teaching, some music. But they are very active outside of the body in giving, discipling, serving, etc. I've been humbled by the living example of this church. It's turned my world upside down the past several years, but made me examine my foundations a lot.

Even without all of the aesthetic planning that I long for, our body exists in true fellowship and loyalty, living out its purpose in our small community and the world. I can't speak against those who lead worship in any way, though I want my experience to be so different when we gather. But I do end up weekly with frustration. My measure of "encountering God" and what that looks like are very defined by popular Christian culture.

1:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Kendra said...

"Hymnody is sweet with the longing after God, the God whom, while the singer seeks, he knows he has already found."

Tozer, "Pursuit of God"

Maybe seeking to encounter God in corporate gatherings is the same. We seek to encounter that which we know is already found, reliable and sure.

5:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Kendra said...

I did some searching online today at random, and found the phrase "encounter God" in many statements. (Beliefs/purpose statements/sharing about experiences)

Online the dictionary says of encounter: "to come upon or meet with, esp. unexpectedly" and "to meet with or contend against" and "to meet, esp. unexpectedly or in conflict."

I wonder if our usage of the term has relaxed, culturally, or if we are indeed seeking the moment of impact that the above definitions seem to carry. JD, when you used this in your statement before, how would you define it? (or anyone else for that matter)

7:33 PM EDT  
Anonymous Michelle Stone said...

This question is very complex. The LIVE story of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one that has been long written; and although I am part of that story as a saved, growing Christian - reorienting myself INSIDE of that is something I hadn't considered before. Around, sure - but inside, well... more thought is necessary on this concept.

1:36 PM EDT  

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