So we're having worship the first Wednesday of the month. The whole goal is to create an "alternative" worship experience. We don't really have a catchy name or some revolutionary model. I have blatantly stolen ideas from lots of sources, and our whole goal is to get kids (and their families) connecting with God in ways they may not be used to, on a night they may not be used to.
We set up chairs in a circle, so we're looking at each other, not at the back of everyone's head like when you're in pews. We have youth leading the music, but it's without amplifiers, and they join us in the circle. Whoever speaks (it's not me every time) sits right there in the circle with everyone else. This use of space communicates a theology that whoever is leading does not have higher access to God nor do they have some privileged position (literally above everyone else on the stage/platform/alter area/whatever).
Our focus is to try and move away from music and lecture into more experiential worship. Tonight it worked out pretty well, so I thought I'd share:
We sang Chris Tomlin's "indescribable" but before we did I asked everyone to take out their cell phones. I explained that we had been having problems with phones going off, and if every one could silence them, then throw them in the middle of the circle so that we wouldn't have to worry about them.
Then I said we'd be spending time thinking about the concept of forgiveness and how Jesus calls us to live, reconciling and bringing healing to our relationships. Then I gave a short introduction to the song "Apologize" by Timbaland feat. OneReplublic (it's actually a OneRepublic song, remixed by Timbaland. OneRepublic has a pretty remarkable MySpace following, and is releasing their first album soon). The song is about broken relationships and being hurt, and the haunting chorus says simply: "it's too late to apologize"
While the song was playing, I had asked everyone to write down the name of someone that they felt they had wronged...a relationship that needed healing...a person that needed an apology.
Then we read Matthew 5: 23-25:
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
I talked very briefly (again, the focus is not the speaker) about the ancient laws about offering sacrifices and that people could be following all the rules but not really be doing God's will. You can follow all the rules but still miss the point. Then I said how we can come to church on Sunday, walk out the door, and be jerks. Jesus says this is crap. It is never to late to apologize, it is never to late to restore a relationship by asking for forgiveness. We cannot seperate our worship of God from our relationships with people.
Then, I asked everyone to pick up their cell phones and call the person they wrote down. Ya know what, just about everyone did. We then came "back to the alter" for prayer and appropriately sang "Grace Like Rain".
Funny how that works- came to church, tried to live out what Jesus said. Plus, we were done in about 40 minutes!
I encourage everyone to try this and let me know how it turns out.