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How do we help the congregation participate more easily in our meetings? #1

October 7, 2010

Matt Blick did a series on his blog on this subject, and I want to spend some time interacting with each of his twelve suggestions and see if I can squeeze out some more value from his ideas and share them as widely as I can.

Number One : Realise that some churches are too big for the congregation to contribute – it’s just that your church is not one of them!

I have heard this said by supposed worship leaders of a church that had only just hit 200 – that is not big!!!  It is certainly not too big to allow the congregation to get involved in the meeting.  It is big enough for the following things to happen for the worship leader or the musicians, though.

  • It is a big enough audience to feel like you are the main attraction.
  • It is a big enough body of people that it is likely to draw a decent number of half decent musicians, and give them a stage that they would almost certainly not get anywhere else.
  • It is a big enough body of people that you will most likely get quite a few people coming along specifically for ‘the worship’ – by which they actually mean, ‘the music’

I would suggest that, for all of these reasons, it is absolutely essential to go for spiritual gifts and congregational involvement in corporate worship – it goes against the pride and idolatry that quickly surrounds and infests our approach to ‘worship’ (in terms of music) and humbles us to the truth that now we are all priests to our God (Rev 5:10) and do not need the worship leader anywhere near as much as we need the Holy Spirit of God to lead us in our worship.

So – 200 is quite large, but certainly not too large.  How are you going to get contributions to be given, heard, received and responded to?

Well – that’s another post, but (based on my previous rants) you can probably guess some of my suggestions!!!

Matt also comments on how it is harder to get congregational involvement at a conference of 100 than in a church of 400 – why is that?  He suggests that it is because they’re not your people and they don’t know the rules – it is harder to get your encouragement to land on them and stir them, and they don’t know who the elders are, where’s the mic, can I shout out, will the band cope with my prophetic song, can I start songs from where I am stood or will I be ejected from the hall….. et cetera.

But I think conferences cause significantly more confusion than this : Newday and TOAM/Mobilise give us a model of corporate worship that many want to bring back to their churches, and yet the model is totally unhelpful!  The one man at the front, smoke and lights can not and must not replace the Holy Spirit and His gifts in our church meetings.  And before anyone says “Oh, its OK, they’re conferences so they don’t need to have spiritual gifts” – they’re not conferences, are they?  They’re a family of churches together.  Newfrontiers North recently had their regional weekend together, and had full on, congregation-participatory worship with tongues, interpretation, prophecy, spontaneous songs, words of knowledge and healings – with more than 1300 people.

I would suggest that, if it is important enough to you, you will find a way to do it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 10, 2010 8:04 pm

    I’m honoured Gareth!

    I think you’re right about conferences – it’s all very well to say “this is a conference don’t do it like this” which we often used to hear at Stoneleigh but if all you ever see at wider gatherings is the same kind of front led platform worship then that is what you’re going to get reproduced at a local level.

    The jazz suggestion was tongue in cheek – but only slightly. Most rock/pop and classically trained musicians (which is mostly what our are churches are stocked with) have little experience of improvising, playing by ear etc – they play what they know, often welded to the music on the stand. To serve charismatic worship you need a whole different skill set.

    On the bright side this is not a million miles away for most Church musicians, it’s just that the majority don’t know where to begin and are stuck on the treadmill of ‘gotta get ready for next Sunday’.

    “I would suggest that, if it is important enough to you, you will find a way to do it”.

    Amen! That’s my experience and there is a way through. Looking forward to your next few posts…

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