Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Collective hunch

This made me laugh; I love Oprah, but she has traveled a bit past ordinary icon status in the American consciousness. :-) Got me thinking, though (as all funny things will do if you let them), about how we're each traveling in our own little reality on one level.

Just came from a church meeting in which we were discussing the worship folders (bulletins) that we create for use at Sunday worship. We're trying to re-examine our assumptions about what they can/should/must do, in light of:
  • our context as a liturgical church; giving enough direction to be helpful, but not so much as to lead people to just read along and disengage on a real level
  • the view of the person coming to worship with us for the first time
  • the views of various worship leaders/participants
  • stewardship of our resources (staff time, supplies, how-much-paper-should-we-use)
I've noticed that questions about worship often become questions about the worshiping community as a whole, and tonight was no exception. The views from the pews were diverse and passionate, and led to interesting sideline discussions about the whys of our current worship and missional choices. This could easily become a MUCH larger discussion.

They're a good group of people, the souls who have come together to address this set of questions, and they're all "correct"...and each represents one viewpoint of many. So the question becomes one of prioritizing, and of our collective reality as a worshiping community. It seems that the following questions are in play here:
  • Who do we say that God is?
  • Who do we say that we are?
  • How do we welcome the stranger?
  • What is essential to our shared worship life?
  • Are we brave enough to really find out?
I'm looking forward to finding out where this leads.

Because, as the cosmically brilliant Lily Tomlin asks in the voice of one of her characters, "What's reality but a collective hunch?"

OK, Friends, questions for you: what's the Worship Folder Reality in your congregation? What works (or doesn't) about your current practice? All wisdom gratefully received. :-)

1 comment:

Catrina said...

We put almost EVERYTHING in the bulletin, from prelude to postlude and all points in between. The hymns are only listed, they are still sung out of the hymnal. And the prayers of the people are read aloud, the congregation only has a cue for their response. But everything else is in the worship folder.

Benefits: very user-friendly for visitors, the hard-of-hearing (they can follow along with their eyes), the easily distracted ADD types, and those struggling with mental or physical dexterity who find it difficult to keep up thumbing back and forth through a hymnal. Also, ideally, a handy piece to take home and tack on the fridge, so you can keep praying the prayers and pondering the Scriptures all week long.

Burdens: it uses a LOT of paper and a lot of energy to print off every week - so it's questionable stewardship of natural resources (and of the money it costs to pay for paper and electricity); it's prone to mistakes (this is more a problem with our sec's habit of using old bulletins as a template instead of creating a blank template for each liturgical setting); I feel like I am ALWAYS PROOFING the freaking bulletin - so, questionable stewardship of the pastor's time; as you note, it can cause people to disengage in worship - or at least, only engage in one aspect or particular way; and in spite of my ideal benefit above, most people leave their bulletins at the church.

Every time we're looking to pinch pennies, somebody brings up the bulletin. But then a bunch of others say we can't change it, for exactly the reasons listed as benefits. If you find a solution to this ongoing delimma, let me know.

The Mad Preacher