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Worship matters

Telescopes, Microscopes and Periscopes


Worship matters

I have already shared some of my struggles in terms of the differences in church life between South Africa and New Zealand.  However, there is something that remains the same for me - Worship matters!  It doesn't matter if there are 10 people or 210 - worship matters!  True, people come to church for different reasons - some to hear the sermon, some to sing the hymns/songs, some to visit friends, some because that is just what they do on a Sunday!  But still, for me, it is the health of our worship that will determine the health of our church.  If Sunday worship brings people into an experience of God's presence on a regular basis, then those experiences will form their service, leadership and daily lives.  Worship matters! 


I have always found it interesting that my tendency is to spend hours preparing the sermon, and then take a few minutes to choose a few hymns, outline some prayers and impose them on a master-order-of-service-plan.  Over the past few years I have tried to work as heard on the "worship" side of the service as I have on the sermon.  The struggle is always the same - "How can I facilitate an experience of God's love?"  Obviously the answers to this question will vary greatly, but three things stand out for me:  1.  The influence of music - the area that determines the attendance of many people.  "Too noisy!" "Too old fashioned!"  2.  The power of stories, esp. the testimonies of lay people who have no "professional need" to be on God's side, and 3. The power of symbols, esp. everyday symbols like advertising, fruit, candles, cars, computers...  If you are preaching on God and the workplace, give each person a key from a computer keyboard, and use some of the keys as the basis of your sermon - escape, home, shift, pause.


I try to pay attention to these three areas as "stepping stones" to better worship.  If I can include good music, good stories and appropriate symbols then chances are I will move beyond the order of service master into a more engaging style of worship service.


Telescopes, Microscopes and Periscopes

I once heard a description of leadership that used these three images: 

Telescope:  A leader needs to be able to look a the big picture if they are going to be effective in their leadership.  Where are we going?  What the issues, experiences and hopes of the people of the church / community in which we live?  What will the impact of this course of action be on the larger experience of our church?

Microscope:  A Leader needs to be conscious of the details - the little things - that affect people and places.  Are things in place for this particular event?  Who will follow up this decision?  When do we need to have that report in by? 

Periscope:  A leader is sometimes the only person who sees the way ahead, and has to lead from what she / he sees.  "Where are you wanting us to go with this, Lord?"  What is the call that needs to be made, the message that needs to be preached?


"People desire leaders who can motivate them to volunteer their energies towards a collective effort.  However, such leadership requires vision and the courage to lead the organization toward that realization of the vision, even when the way is uncertain."  (Shawchuck and Heuser, Leading the Congregation)


The September editions of are being prepared by  Andre le Roux who is the Presbyter at Papatoetoe Methodist Church.



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