Hello, everyone. This blog has moved to JOHNVOELZ.COM!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Interactive Worship #3—Boring Sacraments

Back at the start of this series on “interactive worship” I mentioned, “Interactive worship or “worship interactives” are not new. They are not a product of the emerging church.”

When Jesus gave us the sacrament of communion, He was inviting us to move towards God as we touch, taste, and smell the elements that invoke His memory, create community, help us gain perspective and perhaps give opportunity for repentance.

In regard to baptism—as one plays a role in the living metaphor of dying with Jesus and rising with Him—there may be no greater worship interactive. Not to mention the interaction of the one baptizing and the participation of the witnesses in the celebration.

Both communion and baptism are some of the best-known examples of interactive worship we witness in scripture.

I don’t think we want to admit it, but when we do the same thing over and over and it becomes wrote and predictable, even the life-altering, redemptive, all-encompassing story of Jesus can become . . . boring.

I feel your pain, people. Because, I think it is not only boring to haphazardly host these precious sacraments; I think it is a sin. Howard Hendricks once said, “it is a sin to bore people with the Word of God.” Agreed. Just the same, it is a sin to bore people with the sacraments.

We know the arguments against this stance. Some say it is the Holy Spirit’s job to move hearts and not ours. Some say to let the Spirit move spontaneously. Some say we meddle too much with these things and border on manipulation.

We believe the Bible paints a much different picture than the above arguments. The same Holy Spirit who moves hearts also moves minds and spawns creativity. The same Holy Spirit who moves spontaneously moves in our planning meetings weeks beforehand. And, the manipulation argument is tired. Most of these arguments are—from my perspective—excuses to be lazy and/or are founded on fear or a very narrow view of the role we play in worship. Lazy = boring =disengagement/disinterest = danger.

Many feel they are hampered by their “worship space” and limited in their ability to participate in interactive worship. Unfortunately, this is a very legitimate problem. Of course, we need to think beyond the types of interactives that require us to manipulate our space.

With that said, everyone agrees auditoriums that hamstring us into always facing the same way with no ability to manipulate the environment don't help us. Band goes here. Pulpit goes here. Screen goes there. Chairs bolt down here.

The biggest thing I ever hear from people regarding interactive ideas we have facilitated in weekend Fusion at Westwinds is, "Dang. I wish we could do something like that but our auditorium would not allow us to."

Still, there are many things churches of every size and shape can do to change-up the sacraments and make them more inviting, more engaging, more sensory, more meaningful, and less mundane.

Here are some ideas that might spur your creativity : : :

Let’s start with communion.

• If you use small communion cups, try telling the story of the last supper and the “dipping” of the bread in the cup. Practice intinction—have your people dip the bread.
• Set a banquet table in another room or somewhere in the auditorium and invite people to take time and sit at the table.
• Bake your own communion bread and let the smell of the hot bread waft through the room. Invite groups of people to make the bread with you.
• Have everyone bring a loaf of bread to share for communion. Following communion, give away the bread that wasn’t used. Have your people pray over that bread and the families who will receive it.
• Place a jar of glass marbles at the beginning of the table. Have everyone take a marble and pray for someone who needs to know what Jesus did for him or her. Have everyone drop their marble into another bowl at the end of the table.
• Hold a “memorial service” where people share stories of times where they remember Jesus meeting them in a significant way.
• ALWAYS remember the value of aesthetic. Tables set with fruit, flowers, mirrors, etc. always add something to the experience and make it memorable.
• Put a “guest book” at the beginning of the table for everyone to sign.
• Put other food elements in with the bread and wine. After all, Jesus shared a meal with the disciples on that last evening. I suggest chocolate.
• Participate in communion without using words or any sound. Put all instruction on the screens and encourage everyone not to speak. Put prayer requests on the screen during the entire time of communion.

Those are just a few simple ways we can do something a bit more creative and get people involved in the act of worship.

Now for baptism.

• Have everyone in the congregation dip a cup into a vat of water and hold on to it. Pray for the individuals who are being baptized. Have everyone pour his or her water into the baptismal. Everyone will be baptized in the water of the prayers of the saints.
• Take your baptism off site. Try it in a pool. Have everyone stand in the pool with the people being baptized.
• Have your artists “adopt” someone being baptized. Write songs, craft poems, write stories, film videos, make paintings about the people. Share those pieces of art during the baptism.
• Set up a kiosk for people to write encouraging words on a computer that is projected during the baptism.
• Give everyone a camera and have them take pictures from different angles and close-ups of the people being baptized. Display those photos the following week in your lobby or art gallery.
• Set up a camera to interview anyone who wants to give encouraging words to those being baptized. Make a DVD of those comments and play it the following week. Give a copy to those being baptized.
• Have your people be baptized by other folks in the congregation besides the pastors. Nothing in scripture says the pastor has to baptize.
• Rent a hot tub and make it the baptismal. Put it somewhere other than the “normal” spot. Build a garden around the baptismal. Have people place encouraging notes in and among the flowers/bushes/rocks.
• Set out “guestbooks” for those witnessing the baptism. Have everyone in your congregation go through a guest line and sign the books with encouraging words. If not books, try large cards.
• Have a candlelight/incense baptism. Encourage everyone to light a candle in the name of someone being baptized.

The possibilities are endless. I believe these kinds of creative moments make the sacraments that much more memorable and special for everyone involved.

I dare you to not let another sacrament pass by without some thought about what you might do to breathe life into these very meaningful events.

blog comments powered by Disqus