free html5 templates

FACT News and Comment

Faith Awareness in Children Trust

Block Panel here

Worship that is changing

Posted by: Simon on 25 March 2019.

I would imagine many of you have lived through multiple changes of worship styles down the decades. When the latest offering first appears we deem it to be radical in its thinking and is both exciting and unnerving at the same time. The 1960’s saw the start of ‘Family Services’ which became caricatured as the singing vicar with a guitar, complete with a rainbow strap! Suddenly we were singing choruses! By the 1980’s / 90’s it had morphed into ‘All Age Worship’. This form sort to hold onto what was deemed to be valuable from the past while embracing the new songs, greater engagement of musicians and members of congregations. Drama, poetry, dance, crafts and the like all found there place in this buffet of worship. What was once a homily had become the sermon and was now the talk.

All these changes had at their heart a desire to engage with the worshipping community as a whole. Children were desired to be included (in theory) yet they were still ‘sent out’ to their own classes for most, if not all the service. There was a growing recognition that the majority of people attending didn’t live in families that consisted of Mr & Mrs with 2.4 children. All this while at the same time seeing the decline in church attendance and Christian understanding.

These formats started with promise, but never quite ‘did it’ for people. They never really delivered on the unspoken desire to somehow be a worshipping community. I think this was because we had ignored the changes in society that influence our thinking and living, for good and sometimes for bad. Over the last couple of decades, the dominant ideology has been egocentric living. Simply put me first and last. A simple example of this can be seen in so much of what we sing in church starts with ‘I’ rather than ‘We’. We have become independent worshippers, we have moved from corporate worship (everyone worshipping together) to collective worship (being together while worshipping on my own), mirroring the way schools now structure their assemblies. We have lost the ability to be interdependent on each other and as church communities, we should also be seeking to be intradependent. So what is next?

The failure of All Age Worship has been well documented and is often described as ‘dumbed down’ worship. The perception is that everything is simplified to the lowest common denominator in an effort to include everyone but the result is that it ends up serving no one. To combat this issue this type of worship has evolved and is now constructed in such a way as to offer bits for everyone at different times during the service. There may be a traditional hymn in an attempt to appease the older generation, a children’s song with numerous actions and much bouncing about in an attempt to include the children, the Teens are given faux responsibilities to help during the service including taking up the offertory, doing one of the readings etc. and the latest songs from the likes of Hill Song et al are offered by a zealous worship band to try and capture the rest of the adult congregation. This is deemed to be All Age Worship as it has something for everyone, but once again it has fallen short of what people really want and desire. Individuals only engage with the bits aimed at them and tolerate the rest. So what next?

The new kid on the block is called Intergenerational Worship (IW). All Age worship is ‘Multigenerational Worship’ (MW) where everyone is present but not corporate in their worship. Generations stand alongside each other but remain separate. At its core, IW isn’t about what elements are included in the service as such, but that whatever is done, all seek to engage with them fully to worship. The onus is not on ‘me’ and what I get from the worship, but on ‘us’ and my responsibility to support others in their worship, as they support me in mine. There is a corporate responsibility to seek to be one. It is a sacrificial style of worship as it is possible to leave having given my best to enable others to worship and not necessarily felt any individual benefit. This is, of course, counter-cultural in its approach. It’s not about me but about us. It is opposite to so much of the ideology of MW where the emphasis is, ‘what’s in it for me’, ‘the worship was good this morning as I felt blest’.

This attitude change is where the real shift comes and takes time to adjust to and learn how to be. When we enter into a Service with our aim being to enable and support others in their act of worship, we start to worship in an intergenerational way.

When we sing, with gusto an old hymn that really is of any interest to us, yet is important to others, we aid their worship; When we attempt to sing the children’s song in a way that doesn’t patronise or put up with it but seeks to model to the younger members of the congregation that I want to worship with them and I value it and them as well, we aid their worship; When I take time to seek out and interact with a bashful teen and thank them for their contribution in leading a part of the service, seen or unseen, I aid their worship; When I don’t clap a contribution to the service by a young person because I wouldn’t clap the contribution of an adult, I elevate their act of worship to a parity of everyone else and I aid their worship; When I model how to be silent alongside others who are using the silence in worship, I aid their worship; When choose to stay for refreshments and make small talk after the formal act of worship, even though I might prefer to make a getaway, I aid their worship.

Worship is all about my attitude not about my performance. As I model that attitude of others before myself, so others respond by mimicking my attitude. The portions of worship that really resonate for me are then supported and entered into by others so that I might worship with the whole body of Christ.

Once this has been accomplished then it is possible to look at the nuts and bolts of what we do in IW and how that works in practice. That’s for next time.

No Comments Yet! - Be the first to comment.

There are times to speak and times to stay silent

Posted by: Simon on 30 January 2019.

It seems to me that life is often full of people who want to tell me what I should think. From what I should think politically to what I should be buying in the supermarket to cook for my tea. This is more than simple advertising and making me aware of choices, it’s about convincing me that they have the answers to whatever my question might be. In all of this, the challenge to sift what is important from what is unimportant can be difficult to discern due to the overwhelming onslaught of information and the growing decibels that attempt to drown out anyone else who might wish to speak.
In my ministry I often find myself wondering when to speak and when to stay silent. I recognise that for me, fear can be a driving force that causes silence, and ignorance or arrogance can be a driving force that causes words to pour forth.
Martin Luther King Junior’s quote above is a helpful reminder that it takes courage to speak out on things that really matter and are important. Fear of being ignored, misunderstood, forgotten or drowned out by others can cause silence. While overconfidence, ignorance of the needs of the listener and misplaced zeal can mean that words simply ebb away or bounce off their intended recipient.
During a recent prayer time at the office, I found myself musing on the story of Esther and how ‘Uncle Mordecai’ challenged her to use her position in the King’s Court to speak up for the Jews.
If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14.

It’s one of the classic verses that people present, latching onto the final phrase, ‘for such a time as this’. However, I was initially struck by the first part about not keeping silent when there are things for good that need to be shared and spoken.
There are echoes of Esther’s situation in the challenge to Timothy in Paul’s second letter to him. ‘Fan into flame the spiritual gifts’ and ‘ don’t have a spirit of fear and timidity’.
At the start of 
2019 I’m pushing on with all that I’m convinced God has led me to. Time to Share at Home, Time for Toddlers and Time to Wonder.  There are other projects waiting in the background that will also come into their own at the right time.
I am intentionally going to be vocal about them with every opportunity that comes my way and not hold back with false modesty or false humility.
We have a generation under the age of 40 who know nothing or very little of the wonders of God. My calling is to find ways to allow them to discover and reflect on the reality of 
God so that they too might choose for themselves what they will do about that engagement.

No Comments Yet! - Be the first to comment.

Latest Posts
All Posts

Worship that is changing
Posted on 25 March 2019 by Simon.

There are times to speak and times to stay silent
Posted on 30 January 2019 by Simon.


FACT Peterhouse, St Peter's Close. Staines. Middlesex TW18 2ED 


Phone: 01784 457601 

Need to know

UK Registered Charity No: 1055843
Privacy Policy 
Cancellation Policy