Northmont goes Participatory!
Tonight I tried something completely new at the SON service. The SON service is a contemporary worship service we have every Sunday night, but the people who attend it are quite flexible and willing to try new things. So tonight I threw something new (to them anyway) that looked a little something like this.
Call to Worship
Prayer of Adoration/Thanksgiving
Prayer of Confession
Time of Response with stations
It was a mix of traditional liturgy that one would find at many traditional Presbyterian services, combined with the contemporary music that we use normally at the SON service. Another twist was that my PowerPoint slides weren’t just words, but also including various images, mainly Eastern Orthodox icons. Even the slides that just contained the scripture passages were fancied up a bit with differences in college, font, and size for the key words in the passage. The sermon itself was pretty standard fair (although I didn’t bother to print it out and I just preached from my laptop tonight). After that we did the normal Offertory and then communion (which we do every week). But immediately following communion I had set up a couple different stations for people to go to. One was a station where they could light a candle and say a prayer for someone, another was a station where they could take a rock and drop it into water, to symbolize letting go of a burden that they were carrying. At another station people could fill out a prayer request card that would then be included in the pastoral prayer, and finally if a person wanted to be prayed for individually I was standing off to the side, out of the way. The key station for the night was one where people were invited to take pencil and a piece of paper and write a letter to God or their neighbor (the Sermon was on the greatest two commandments).
I have to say this group of pretty typical Presbyterians did a really great job with participatory worship. A number of people commented they liked the mix of liturgy and music, and the response stations were a real hit, as I almost ran out of candles to be lit, and there were quite a few rocks in the bottom of the bowl. I think when I preach in a couple weeks I’ll try something similar, but change a few stations to provide some variety as well as make at least one station that is specific to the message of the night. It took a little more work to get everything set up, but I think it was worth it in the end.
The next great task will be making the worship here at PTS on November 3rd participatory. That actually may prove to be a greater challenge, we’ll see.