Develop worship practices in partnership. The shape of your worship will depend on the diversity in your area and the particular passions of your church leaders. I find it curious, for example, when a church located in a primarily Latino community is focused on finding a Black worship leader if the community wants to sing in Spanish. Or a church planter in a mixed-income Black community keeps his preaching content and style identical to that in a white hipster context.
What if our worship mobilized people in witness and mission? Imagine worship practices that engaged our congregations with God’s heart for the world to experience salvation, redemption and wholeness. Many of our current worship settings give people experiences they want.
We sing worship songs about ourselves and God, we preach sermons to individuals instead of communities, and we pray for ourselves. Imagine liturgy that focuses outward to engaging our communities and world with Jesus. What might change about the topic of our sermon series, the lyrics of our songs, the focus of our communal prayers?
Determine the strengths and weaknesses your community has in witness. Is your congregation strong in global mission, but weak in advocating for issues of racial or economic justice domestically? Is your church strong in service and relief, but weak in proclaiming the gospel? What is the evangelistic temperature of your community?
Consider songs, prayers, etc. that draw your mind and heart to mission. Gather a group of people to reflect on the topics of sermons, songs and other worship elements that have been focused on evangelism, justice and global mission.
Develop worship practices that strengthen your weak areas. Consider the correlation between your strengths and weaknesses and your current worship services. Confess where you have lacked concern. Consider your context and make changes.
Worship practices can be helpful in witness as well as forming witnesses. Imagine a new generation of worshippers who are formed through worship with a passion for witness. Imagine a church that considers its surrounding ‘neighbors’ and the future majority of our country (younger, browner, unchurched) in developing practices of worship. What changes is your community willing to make to reconcile witness and worship?
*For more information about the intersection of reconciled witness and worship read Sandra’s mini-book, The Mission of Worship (IVP).