Ask Episcopalians what they love about their church and inevitably many will say “the liturgy.” From the beginning, Common Prayer has been a binding force in the Anglican tradition; oftentimes it is the only place where disparate elements can come together.
So it is unlikely that we will abandon that, but within the structure of the Eucharist is there space to invite even greater communal participation and leadership – on the fly?
Ministry Matters has a post today about crowd-sourcing worship, that offers possibilities that may be worth considering. Of course, the author (Rebekah Simon-Peter) isn’t coming from an Anglican/Episcopal perspective, but she isn’t wholly dismissing liturgy or liturgical worship either so perhaps we can give some time enough to listen to what she is offering.
Agree or disagree: People have to be told how to connect to God or what to say to God, God speaks only to the few and the well-placed.
If you disagreed with the above, then you are ready to experiment with crowdsourced worship.
Simon-Peter describes how she stumbled upon the idea one day when she forgot to plan the closing worship during a retreat.
I prompted them through the Order of Worship in the United Methodist Hymnal, asking at each point who had something to contribute. From Call to Worship through Benediction, the Spirit moved. I provided a brief reflection and led Holy Communion. Others bookended this with a favorite Scripture reading, creative words of reconciliation, simple songs, touching prayers, and even a joke that fit perfectly. I never could have planned something so good. The worship service unfolded through us. It was surprisingly satisfying.
She goes on to list some of the perks and perils, both of which are worth giving sustained thought to as we seek a meaningful encounter with an society increasingly skeptical of religiously focused lives. Go check it out and share what you think of her ideas. Have you ever tried anything like this? How did it work out? What perks and perils can you see?