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Direction

Have you ever endured boring worship? If so you know how hard it is to connect with God when you are not interested. And you can tell if that is the norm by observing the interest level of the regular attendees. Do the participants have excitement for what they are doing? Do the worshippers pay attention or do they text and fidget and sit with blank faces? Do they discuss the spirit of worship or do they forget they have been there by lunch time?

Worship is supposed to be a dynamic experience of encounter between God and people.  Unfortunately too many do not pay attention to the quality of the experience or take time to create the dynamic environment for the Soul and Spirit to connect. It is not that worship providers prepare a “show”. The worship experience is a mutual participation exercise and those who lead have a huge and holy responsibility to create the best experience possible for all.

One way to help build the experience is to plan for the ebb and flow of energy. In every worship experience there are “high” and “low” moments. There is time to be active and time to be passive, time to speak or sing and time to listen and time to quietly reflect. There is a time to be social and a time for solitude and all of it should flow evenly and smoothly from one to another creating a whole experience that is memorable and builds anticipation for the next.

A trap of “form based” worship is to just plug elements in without careful planning to ebb and flow. A trap of “theme based” worship is to focus on parts or providers rather than integration of all parts and providers with people.

Worship experiences should not be “cookie cutter” patterns or static which drains interest and enthusiasm. Some experiences start low and build to a high. Others start in the middle and ride up and down. Some start high and end low. Creativity is key to helping people worship and fully participate in the full worship experience.

So mind and heart, energy and pace, activity and stillness all together work to create a worship experience that makes a difference and because of it not only helps folks encounter God in a real and personal way, it helps them to remember the message and the difference, share it with others, and live better because of it.

Perhaps it helps to remember that every part of every worship service and every person in it are on Holy Ground in a Holy time to represent and present themselves honestly and to honor God and our relationship with God.

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Did you ever visit a new or different worship experience? Do you know what it is like to be a “visitor”, a “guest”, an “outsider”? Very often in such experiences we feel self-conscious and hope and pray for someone to help us to feel welcome. We see that people are very friendly with each other, and so we hope they will be with us. We look at every face looking for a kind one. We go to the folks with the badges or nametags expecting them to be friendly and outgoing and to be ready and willing to help. But when disappointed we walk anonymously into the worship space, try to find a seat that won’t offend anyone, and reduce our expectations of good. This is not the way it is supposed to be. It is not the way we want it to be. But it is often true.

Now, did you ever forget to address an email, introduce a friend, just to take that extra step of kindness? You didn’t mean to it just slipped your mind. Or maybe too much was on your mind, or you were distracted, or maybe our consciousness just took a short vacancy break. Maybe we should give a break to those who are a little less than outgoing.

But even if they are cold and unwelcoming, now that we are there do we want it to be a bad experience? Why do we wait for them to come to us? It is like telling a friend if they need anything “just call” when we know the last thing in the world they would do when in need is to reach out. Our whole experience can be determined by our frustration and isolation. We could miss the grace of God, distracted by disappointment.

So the Way Stations advice is don’t wait for them to change their ways or to change in the space of a few minutes. Don’t wait at all. Take the initiative. Introduce yourself, ask them for the help you need, make friends. Show your enthusiasm, compliment your hosts. Create the positive spirit yourself. You may be surprised at how quickly and how well they will respond to your kindness.

I went to a conference once and everyone stayed in little familiar groups. Interaction was absent and social was anything but. It was awful. But then I noticed there were a few who did not sit around waiting for someone to come to them, they presented themselves, made friends, and gave that which they had hoped to receive and all enjoyed it just as much.

If we want to worship, we need to worship. We don’t want to watch others worship we want to participate and if we do we will have a much better time. So don’t just wait there, do something!

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