Church dreaming

I’m dreaming of a different kind of church. Maybe it’s not even called a church, and it may or may not be aligned to any form of Christian denomination. In this church you don’t go in to sit down and listen to a message, though that may happen. There is no set expected tradition, such as worship music, liturgy, Bible reading, and sermon. This is a celebration of Mystery, and as such each gathering involves some degree of spontaneity. That’s not to say there is no planning or tradition; rather, there is always room left for God to speak (or not speak). Every person is a participant rather than passive observer; this is no mere form of entertainment. Every participant is considered to be an artist, and encouraged to express themselves in whatever creative capacity. It sounds like pandemonium, but my vision involves some degree of structure and order in chaos.

This kind of church still requires strong leadership which acts in a facilitating capacity. Each leader carries the community’s vision and works together to see that every participant is inspired and engaged. There are no power struggles for there is no hierarchical authority system.

What I see is something akin to the production of a movie, as is revealed through documentaries. Moving out of the abstract, this example does contain levels of authority, ranging from director to extra to stage hand, yet it appears that the vision of the finished product captures each person no matter their role. The director inspires the cast and crew with the vision of the film. When it is finished, we tend to exonerate the lead actors, who deserve a great deal of praise due to the hard work involved. Yet we tend to overlook the crew who worked behind the scenes to put the pieces together to make a slick film. This does not phase the crew; they love what they do, and work tirelessly to bring forth something to be proud of. From the documentary, there is a collective sense of awe when the film is complete, and a strong sense of togetherness in the process of production. Of course, there will always be ego, but the vision of the film captures every member into that one purpose.

While not a perfect analogy, what the above demonstrates is the need for clear vision and active participation in bringing that vision to fruition. Where ‘structured chaos’ comes to play is in the creative input of each participant. There will not be absolutely defined roles for each person, unlike the production of a film, but each one is has some valuable contribution to make to the whole.

I know I don’t have many readers, but if you’re out there and reading this, can you share with me your sense of community – do you see this as viable? Have you seen anything like I’ve described? What are your experiences, what is your vision?


2 thoughts on “Church dreaming”

  1. Wow, so you dream of a church that does not tell you to “sit down and listen to what you’re told”?

    I’ve never lived in America’s Deep South, but I hear church services, say, in Atlanta are more interactive like this…

    Your last paragraph made me chuckle, you have one more reader!

  2. What you describe reminds me a little bit of unprogrammed Quaker worship, except that Quaker worship is formally structured in its own way. Quaker formality does allow for each participate to contribute and freely express themselves as they see fit, but it does have its own formal conventions of silence, and music is not generally a part of it. Quakerism also tends not to see itself in artistic terms.

    I like the idea of seeing worship as a form of artistic expression. I think that creativity is an important part of the Divine experience, and our experience of the Divine.

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