Saturday, July 13, 2002

alternative worship

when daniel miller and I lunched and walked around Gannett/USA TODAY's lake and headquarters on Thursday in McLean, VA, he mentioned to me a few sites to check out. I surfed into danielsjourney this am and went to small ritual. From there I found I haven't really been explosed to this before and was checking out some of the articles. One of my first thoughts was that it was paradigm-shifting and a helpful way to get a fresh view of God.

from the site, Steve Collins lists five principals of alternative worship:

1. It's about community not authority.
Alternative worship is created by a group of people, for themselves and anyone else who might be interested. It's not aimed at a target market somewhere else. Leadership emerges from the community, is provisional and by general consent. Anyone can contribute, anyone can take a lead.

2. It's about methods not style.
Change your methods first, and let the style of your worship emerge naturally. It's true that changing style can help you renew your methods. But if you do it this way round you may end up with nothing more than a superficial makeover.

3. It's about relevance not newness.
What's relevant may be very old or very new. It may be traditional or radical. It may be mundane or exotic. Cast your net wide and follow your instincts. Whatever expresses you to God and God to you is relevant.

4. It's about reality not appearances.
Let what you do in church grow from who you really are. Don't put on a different face to go to church - it just gets in the way. Don't fake devotion, or fashion, to impress the public. Give people permission to be themselves before God - don't enforce 'correct' behaviour or beliefs. Make worship that expresses all of your life, not just the presentable parts.

5. It's active not passive.
Worship isn't a spectacle. It shouldn't make an audience out of a congregation. Your worship should give everyone the chance to be involved. It should give the congregation the means to shape their own encounter with God, rather than doing it all for them.

Kevin & Brian Draper list Some Characteristics of Alternative Worship

-a concept of faith as journey
-a renewed exploration of creativity
-less rigid or hierarchical leadership structures
-a holistic understanding of worship - our lives as worship
-affirmation of personal identity
-an emphasis on relationships and community
-a care for the environment and an exploration of our place within creation
-risks taken, unusual things tried
-congregational involvement - interaction encouraged
-an embrace of uncertainty
-a focus on contemplation and meditation
-a search for the transcendent and a sense of mystery and wonder
-an emphasis on small locally based groups not big events
-cultural relevance not technology for its own sake
-use of symbolism that connects with people at different levels
-a combination of ancient and contemporary
-a commitment to change instead of self-preservation
-use of elements that both sides of the brain respond to - ie experiential and intellectual

Finally, Steve Collins offers a more robust intro to alternative worship: Church for a Changing Culture: An Introduction to Alternative Worship.

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