Participation and Empowerment

Participation and empowerment are not typically associate with worship, but I think they are key elements in what God’s up to in the church today. In a sense you could say that God is empowering people to meet him in both community and alone so that they can be humbled and filled with his power. Nevertheless, there is an overall feeling of powerlessness in the church in which we tend to assume that we cannot approach God, whether he’s too angry, disappointed, or demanding.

While we cannot expect to remedy all wrongs in the church by tweaking a service, we can change these gatherings and those that are more informal to create a space where we can encounter God. During worship I have noticed a dynamic at play in which there is a strong individual act of encountering God, but there is a simultaneous interaction with the whole group. In a sense, as all engaged in worship draw closer to God, they are somehow drawn together. I have been encouraged and filled by simply watching another person worship. It was a strange connection that rose above the private/public dichotomy we often have. Somehow authentic worship has to be both.

JR Briggs and Ryan Bolger have each posted on worship and these ideas of participation and empowerment.

Ryan tackles it head on, offering some practical insight:

“Taking my cues from the Alt Worship network in the UK, new forms of worship do not equate to candles and coffee, videos and tables, stations and art. Rather, it is about access and inclusion. Who was invited and empowered to create and participate in worship?”

JR takes the more round-about route by comparing worship to March Madness. Trust me, it’s worth reading. I HATE basketball, but I persevered and found that he wraps it up nicely.

“When people grasp this March Madness idea of ownership as royal priests they will begin to see their lives as be missionally-minded, thus regaining the mission-mindset that has been lost for quite some time. We must shift our ministry paradigm from the NBA playoffs approach to the March Madness mindset. When we do this, people will be able to catch the vision of ownership and will begin to see themselves as being a significant participant in the Church, rather than merely attending it and watching it pass them by.”

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