Note: Monday Morning Quarterback is a recurring post that examines personal and pastoral events of Sunday.
Today’s topic: improvisation.
One of the valuable contributions being made by NEXT Church is a push towards spontaneity and improvisation in worship. Mainline churches have relied heavily on printed orders of worship that clearly instruct worshipers in every move of a service, especially since the liturgical renewal movement of the 1960’s. That serves a critical hospitality function, as anyone who can read is able to follow printed prompts and join in printed responses.
But voices like Ashley Goff are pushing churches to drop the scripts and pick up some improv skills. To sit for 60 minutes listening passively or joining in now and again in precisely predetermined ways feels more and more out of joint for contemporary people. How, the question goes, can churches expect to incorporate the gifts of men and women who, Monday through Saturday, are blogging and DIYing their way through more and more of life when what we offer them is an hour long seminar or hymn sing?
It’s a complicated question, and there’s lots of nuance to be added, but I’m persuaded that the move to improv and spontaneity is the right one. So yesterday I tried some things. I asked for a raising of hands during the sermon. I tried the “Yes, Let’s” benediction again. But that’s not much. I still felt like I was doing a lot of one-way talking.
So here’s my question: if you’re a church leader, what are some of your favorite ways of “imrov”ing in worship? If you go to a church, what kind of balance do you expect between what the service dictates for you vs. what you’re invited to contribute of your own? And if church isn’t your thing, then what is the most invigorating kind of collective activity you participate in, and what makes it that way?
Thanks for your comments!