Are we still excluding the people from worship?


A recent post on worship here got some conversation going about what is worship?  One comment noted the word “liturgy” literally means “work of the people.”  Evangelicals are quick with criticism of the ancient mass from which the common people were excluded.  But, are we doing the same thing — excluding “the people” when we offer spectator worship services with little chance of participation by those attending?

Most of our churches are set up like theaters — performers on stage, audience in rows.  But, the small church especially can provide ways for worshippers to participate.   We’re trying to involve more people in worship services at our church.   For example, I was concerned that I did most of the talking during communion.   To solve that problem, we adapted The Great Thanksgiving, which is used in Episcopal and Methodist churches (maybe others, too), during the Eucharist.  The Great Thanksgiving in our church has become a reading that pastor and congregation participate in during the communion service.

We also are asking different people to read Scripture, pray, and lead our children’s sermon each Sunday.  Some Sundays we do a better job of involving folks than we do on other Sundays.  When we offered an early service, worshippers sitting around tables participated in creating the worship focal point — an art piece representing the theme of the day — and we had a great time in the process.

What are you doing?  How do you involve worshippers, so that worship doesn’t just get done by the professionals?  Leave a comment and share your ideas with others.

7 thoughts on “Are we still excluding the people from worship?”

  1. One of the beauties of liturgical worship, is that it really does not matter who says the liturgy, i.e. the person, as it is the liturgy itself, truly Christ is the one present! Presence and Sacrifice: Both are areas of mystery which ultimately defy definition.

    Fr. Robert

  2. Yes we are. I’ve never really felt comfortable with music-as-worship. It seems to me to be saying “Sure we wan’t your gifts as an accountant/driver/gardener etc, but on sunday God doesn’t: He wants you all to fit into a homogenous mush to his glory. And if it means nothing, just do as you are told anyway!”
    I appreciate that’s a bit too strong, and is probably never the intent of the people at the front with the guitar, but it is how it all came over: the gifted professionals were the pastor and worship leader. No-one else.
    We are working in our church to bring as many people into this worship as we can. I’ve alrteady said, that we use the word ‘Gottesdienst’ as a working definition, and try and get as many people as possible to be able to use their gifts and bring their gifts to God, for the enrichment of all.

    Friar Roberts: Many thanks for your comments about liturgy. At the moment there is a bit of a reaction against liturgy in our church: mostly to do with the way people have held it up as the only way to worship for about 400 years, so it’s going to be a while before we can reintroduce it into the modern services, but I’m hopeful that we can rediscover it at some point. One of my desires is to have the apostles creed (Which contains a couple of stories when you look at it) with a drum circle accompaniment. We are sourcing things like 50 gallon drums at the moment.

  3. korschtal

    A nice scripture verse to keep before our eyes is Acts 2:42 in this context. The question is always: What is the Apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayers? And since this began in the infant church, how do we allow and develop all of these elements? This question is always for both eastern and western Christianity.

    Father Robert

  4. korschtal

    A nice scripture verse to keep before our eyes is Acts 2:42 in this context. The question is always: What is the Apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayers? And since this began in the infant church, how do we allow and develop all of these elements? This question is always for both eastern and western Christianity.

    Father Robert

  5. Chuck,
    Thanks for your post. I have been thinking a lot about this very subject lately. I wrote a couple of posts at my blog around the same time you posted this about what the church should look like. I pastor a small church in a small town in North Dakota, but I used to be a youth and worship pastor. As such, I once preached part of a message on worship from the back of the auditorium to drive home the point that we should all participate in worship. But as you have pointed out, it is many times easier said than done. I have bookmarked the blog here and plan to keep checking in.
    Jeff M

Comments are closed.