I figure late is better than never, so here goes.
I’m really interested in the idea of the community of God’s people ‘narrating the story of God’ to a world that is seeking the hear His voice at a very core level & particularly how gathered worship & ‘big W’ worship (as Dan talks about) fuels and facilitates that.
Wilt’s telling of the Celtic way of going about this is particularly interesting:
For the Celtic Christians, who held a very strong sense of the Trinitarian basis for human community, they modeled their pattern of welcoming people into the family of faith by first offering them 1) belonging, then welcoming them to 2) behave as years of friendship with the community of saints and the presence of the Holy Spirit opened the way for real change, and then finally welcoming them to 3) believe – if they ever so chose!
Have you read or heard about the prominent atheist blogger / debater who recently became Catholic? When asked the question “what has the transformation been like for you?”, she cites 1) being part of a community & 2) being able to celebrate mass (e.g. the participatory retelling of the story in gathered worship each week). Then further, in response to how this has changed her is that it’s easier for her to reach out to people because she wants to see them become who they are created to be & meant to be (my paraphrase).
So for her, becoming a Christian has meant being part of a community, being part of retelling of THE story each week through worship and encouraging other people’s personal development towards the new creation (them at ‘perfection’).
I have to believe that while the moral / ethics argument was a big deal for her (as someone who professionally argued morals / ethics), experiencing community and worship had to have been major pieces to her deciding to come to faith.
This is an awesome story. But how do we deal with people who, after belonging to our community for years because they just like the belonging aspect, don’t behave as though they *should* and only touch on belief (if even that)? As worship leaders being SubCreators, ImageBearers, CommunityBuilders and SalvationStorytellers (all Dan’s words) I think we experience the personal death that Kinnaman talked about last week.
I wonder as worship leaders (loaded with all those above implications) if doing it (e.g. literally leading people over time into The Story through gathered worship & ‘W’orship through our lives) actually leads us towards personally dying to self for the sake of others. That it’s just the nature of the beast.
I wonder what happens when we do try to invert that Celtic description (requiring people to believe, behave and only then belong) because it’s less messy & easy to track? My sneaking suspicion is that some people might nod their head & go along with it on the outside, but that they’re inside thinking something totally different. It seems like that approach to leading people into The Story is inherently flawed, mostly because it doesn’t transform us as leaders into more like the image of our God.
All that now has me thinking about the practical nuts & bolts of leading worship in my small group & how I can better help them ‘get it’ in our gathered worship. I have a couple people who do kind of nod their head like they really would rather skip the music part, but will play along because they’re nice Christians & that’s what we do. I wonder what I could do in the 10-15 mins of gathered worship to create an environment where they are more able to actually connect with this story & the creator at the center of it?