For today's Worship Wednesdays, please welcome my better half in life and music, Gerald Flemming!
Most Things To Most People
Guest Post by Gerald Flemming
The advantages of a personal touring ministry are many. We are constantly brought into people’s lives and get to hear the stories that are foundational for their congregation and faith walk. This extends even further as we play in different denominational settings or, as we had established in St. Andrew’s, an ecumenical service. Here we witnessed Christians worshiping. We weren’t Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians or any sect of Christianity. We were just Christians who were seeking the most practical Biblical choices we can make with our lives in modern times. It was an honor to witness teachers and a congregation in pure joyous teaching worship.
Wednesday Worship at St. Andrews, NB
This was the Wednesday evening service that we started in St. Andrews. It was predicated on the paradigm that we started with Rev. Drew MacDonald at St. John’s York Mills, called the Gathering. It was a simplified service that was teaching and music based. In St. Andrews, it was less dialogue driven and more teaching driven which suited the people there a little better. Within a few weeks of starting the service, it was one of, if not the best attended services within the local townships. As much as I’d secretly like to believe that it was because of the music, I really don’t think it was. Between the tremendous meal and conversations that happened prior to the service, and the ideal that it was an all inclusive service, there was created a sense of community almost instantaneously. There was a vibrant need that seemingly wasn’t being satisfied by any of the Sunday morning services for these people. I think on some level they felt as if they were helping to create and shape a worship that served them more directly and idiosyncratically.
Let me say first and foremost, I am in no way against liturgically based services. I think they are the backbone of our faith and have an intellectual veracity that is both necessary and edifying. And even the best worship band would be hard pressed if they were up against an amazing choir doing Mozart’s Requiem. However, there are often times an enormous gap between this service and the moral and spiritual countenance of our everyday life. Where do we test our ideals and the quandaries of everyday living? Where can we as individuals admit defeat, exhaustion, pain, horror…and feel relatively safe?
Is it possible that we could have a conversation around the idea that both of these services are necessary for a well-rounded spiritual life?
I realize that I’m touting an ideal here. It’s just an interesting experience seeing the different pieces of the spiritual pie doled out to different people with varied needs. And instead of there being the unfortunate and unnecessary culture war that can often take place in churches, you could have a bonded sense of dual purpose intended on serving the whole soul, instead of just prioritized pieces.
There are churches all over that are experimenting with this idea, and the interesting outcome is that they are, by and large, flourishing. They have, on average, a higher attendance rate as well as a higher rate of personal ministry involvement. The offshoot of this, of course, is that they end up with more resources that feeds back into the community creating many different types of momentum.
There are many people out there who, on some level, feel that this approach defiles tradition That it is in some way an affront to the purity of what Church has been and should continue to be. And I know I have a personal agenda, but I question this calcification of approach, as something that could conceivably turn young people away from the church to more digestible forms of worship. I’ve heard people and priests use the adage, ‘You can’t please everyone.’ And it’s absolutely true, particularly with limited resources, but within those frameworks it might be time to start a Wednesday night service, where the food is great, the conversation is meaningful, the teaching has an immediate and practical relevancy…and the music isn’t bad either ;)
Next week, Worship Wednesdays returns with Part 2 of
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