Scattering and gathering | The basics of whole-life worship (1/5)
In this blog series, Sam and Sara Hargreaves, co-authors of LICC’s Whole Life Worship resource, explore how the worship we offer in church can shape the way w...
In this blog series, Sam and Sara Hargreaves, co-authors of LICC’s Whole Life Worship resource, explore how the worship we offer in church can shape the way we worship in all the variety of our lives – and how churches can grow a culture that equips people to act, speak, and work in worship, every day of the week.
In our previous post we talked about three-dimensional worship, and the importance of including prayers, songs, actions, and other aspects of worship which intentionally look outward. These help your congregation process their everyday lives in the presence of God’s people, and empowers and sends them out to another week of whole life worship on their frontlines.
We don’t expect every act of worship to contain all three dimensions equally, but we do think that over the course of a service there ought to be elements of each dimension. When planning a service it’s helpful to ask ‘how 3D is this gathering?’ In particular, are there aspects of the service which touch on the third dimension? We would encourage you to incorporate these third dimension aspects in ways that come naturally to your usual style and service order. Every church, however ‘free’ or ‘structured’, will have repeated elements, and all of these can take on an outward focus.
Have a think about the journey of your service. Adapt and add to the following, depending on what would fit your context:
Gathering: How can you welcome people and focus them in a way that honours the week that has passed, where they have been worshipping on their frontlines? Is there a song, a prayer, a Bible passage you could use? In all-age contexts we regularly use the interactive ‘We Are One In Christ’ poem.
Intercession: Praying for the needs of the world is a natural time to focus outwards. This may be in a formal setting, or spontaneously as sung worship continues. We have found images on a screen showing news stories, local issues or global needs to be a great visual way to inspire third dimension prayer.
Testimony: ‘This Time Tomorrow’ is a tried-and-tested LICC idea to get people to share where they will be on Monday morning. You can ask them what the challenges and opportunities are. You can also ask everyone who is also in that profession/situation (healthcare, education, retail, retirement, etc) to stand and be prayed for, commissioning groups of people each week to worship through their work.
Response: Take a moment after teaching to give space for people to apply God’s word to their everyday lives. How will this impact their ‘scattered’ worship? Is there a physical or symbolic response they might make, or an opportunity for confession, prayer, or space to receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit?
Sending: This is perhaps the key moment for encouraging ‘scattered’ worship. If you say, or imply ‘worship is over now, see you next Sunday for more worship’, you disempower your congregation from worshipping in their homes, jobs and streets. On the other hand, if you send them out ‘to love and serve the Lord’, or singing lyrics that proclaim ‘let all we do be praise to you’ (as in the song Send Us Out) they catch the idea that they are moving to a different, and equally vital, sphere of worship
Sam and Sarah Hargreaves