One of my favorite moments in the book of Matthew is when Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there will be diversity…” Well, it doesn’t exactly say that! But as a worship leader and consultant, I know that especially when two or three (or 40 or 500) are gathered in the name of Jesus in worship, there will be differing feelings about how to worship. We surely need the presence of Jesus to help us love each other as we navigate our diversity. I believe that we can celebrate what is possible “when two or three” are gathered to worship God–not in spite of our diversity, but because of it.
We must speak of the “deepest things.” My dear friend Nina Reeves was a conference youth coordinator for decades and an infamous storyteller in the church. In retirement, she continues to be much-beloved by those whose lives she touched along the way. I only get to see her occasionally, but one of her greatest traits is to sit me down, look into my eyes and say, “Let us speak about the deepest things we know right away!” What a wonderful way to see our valuable time together as friends and our time together as the family of God. In worship, we have the opportunity to share something of our life stories with one another as they intersect with our faith story. Because each person’s experience is unique, sharing our diverse perspectives helps us learn more about the myriad ways God is working in the world.
1) Use storytelling as a part of worship team brainstorming session about a theme.
2) Invite different individuals to share a story from their lives that is applicable to the theme during your worship series.
3) Invite the congregation to share something with each other in pairs or small groupings as a response to the sermon or in the midst of a sermon. I use this with small and very large groups of people, and it can bring a level of intimacy to both.
Enhancing worship isn’t just about figuring out what styles of music to choose. We must cultivate the expectation that, whatever we do, something profound is happening in our midst. We must work to create authentic, deeply spiritual, and safe spaces in which to be open to experiencing the Spirit moving in and through us in deep and sometimes surprising ways.