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Potluck Worship

15 October, 2003 9:24 AM

"The origins of the word liturgy can be traced back to a combination of the ancient Greek leiter or work and laos or people and meant "something performed for the benefit of the city." Early church leaders used it to refer to "something performed by the people for the benefit of others." ...This notion, when applied to the work of worship, was new to me. I had rather naively viewed worship as something like a meal in a restaurant. If the worship leaders, who might be compared to the chef, host, hostess, and servers, did their work well, we "feasted." If their effort was more routine, we might be filled and satisfied. If their work was sloppy or inattentive, we might leave hungry or frustrated.

On that Sunday morning at East Harlem Parish, with a ministry that crossed the borders of race, class, and culture, I had a different experience. Worship was more like a church potluck supper. Everyone contributed; everyone participated; everyone benefited."

From Charles Foster's Embracing Diversity: Leadership in multicultural congregations. (p100)



This has to be the ideal for worship! Too often we find in our churches a worship that is more entertainment than interactive. The leader has done his homework and prepared to lead, the others follow blindly wherever he may go. But is that worship? Surely worship implies adoration of Someone and a reason why we gather. We're not there for leader-admiration, or band-excitement, or to be taken on highs and lows (or even the proverbial "worship journey"). We're there to connect with God - or at least that's what SHOULD be doing...
At a recent communion service people were asked to come prepared to participate with a reading, a story, a testimony, a prayer, or anything they felt like contributing. With so many actively taking part it was the best service in ages! Everyone felt a part of the communion experience and felt that they could give, no matter how small their gift - and were blessed mightily in return.
From what I understand, it seems the early church functioned in much the same way. There was no real "leader" as such - people came together, shared together, ate together, learnt together and each contributed as he or she felt led to.
Perhaps this is the way worship should be today too. Difficult to achieve in congregations of thousands, but just right for small groups!
(By way of postscript - as part of a worship team, we often find that when we think our leadership has been a disaster and everything we planned went wrong, those have been the times God has worked on hearts the best! Hmmmmmm...! So much for the "perfect worship" Our ways are not always God's ways it seems.)

Michelle » 21 October, 2003 12:06 AM

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