How do we connect the Sunday experience of whole-church worship with the Monday reality of each individuals working week? How can “our Sunday worship of the God and King of the universe not only express our wonder, praise and love for him but help us live our whole Monday-to Saturday lives differently?
Sara and Sam Hargreaves, of “engage worship” set out to show us ways we might begin to do this in their book “Whole Life Worship: Empowering disciples for the frontline”, published by IVP Books.
The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity has long been trying to encourage us to engage in whole life missional discipleship, encouraging Christians to prepare for life and mission out there, on our many and varied “frontlines”, rather than basing all our focus on church-based activity…after all, most of us spend only about 10 hours of our week in church, leaving us with around 110 hours when we are awake and living life at home, at work or in our wider communities.
“Whole Life Worship” suggests ways that our Sunday worship, part of the “10”, can help us live out the “110” as missional disciples. It also makes suggestions about the way that the experiences of life on our “frontlines” can inform our prayers and worship.
The book begins by setting out foundations and frameworks for a theology of Whole Life Worship, before moving on to a number of helpful practical examples of how it might be done. Coupled with the ‘engage worship’ website this provides a really useful resource. Sam and Sara also run helpful workshops to aid churches wanting to become proactive in equipping their members to live missional lifestyles in their everyday lives.
This is not just a book to read…it is an encouragement and help to a worshipping life.
Useful resources, including free small group films and discussion materials, can be found on the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity’s website.
Spring Harvest 2015
One of the Christian communities that I am pleased to call ‘home’ recently invited me to lead some worship, including songs, once a month. I already play in the worship band at a once-a-month special evening meeting, so I guess this is an extension of that.
I am old…by the standards of most contemporary worship bands and leaders…but I enjoy worshipping with Chris Tomlin, Beth Croft and Matt Redman along with the best of them (if my fingers are perhaps a little stiffer and slower than they once were). So I decided it was probably about time I had a look at what’s on offer in the way of new worship music songs…what’s out there in the contemporary praise and worship music scene.
That’s when it hit me…
It seems that everything contemporary is being written and arranged with the large Christian gathering and a large, talented (professional) band ‘performing’ in view.
The band of which I am currently a part is made up of a number of perfectly competent but highly under-confidant musicians…we enjoy what we do, and play to the best of our ability but we have to work very hard to make what we do playable and singable in our context, and inevitably we don’t have hours to spend practicing.
It would be so good if someone would think about small gatherings when writing and arranging worship songs. After all the vast majority of Christian gatherings are smaller, and those that still want to include sung worship need a resource tailored to them.
Of course, one of the biggest problems is that recordings made of a solo instrument and voice are not incredibly popular in the world of digital media (although there are occasional accoustic albums)…they don’t sell well. Consequently most worshippers come with an unconscious expectation that the song they know so well from their Matt Redman album will sound exactly like the way Matt and band play it…and I suspect musicians like me do the same. We struggle to reproduce the ‘feel’ that everyone is expecting…and why should we. I’m certain that there must be resources out there that I haven’t found yet, so if you read this and know of any, please add a comment! Please!!
So please understand…this is not a moan about big churches and worship as performance…I very much enjoy my visits to places where the sung worship is a bit more high-octane…it is simply a plea to remember the vast majority who don’t have the inbuilt advantages and person-power of larger expressions of church, and hopefully, someone will hear me and do something to help.