How can we appreciate other churches and their worship expressions? We who are involved in leading worship can learn about worship and grow by connecting with people who have different expressions of worship. It’s important to learn from other church traditions around us, even as we are leading our own community in worship.
Open yourself to being moved by elements that may be in another church’s traditions, but aren’t as emphasized in your own. You’ll find you can learn about worship by experiencing an unfamiliar worship setting – and may even bring back a few new things to try within your own community.
How to Learn About Worship From Other Churches
WAY 1 – TAKE A SUNDAY OFF
Every now and then, take a Sunday off. Plan ahead as to what church you might want to visit, and what traditions are outside of your scope of experience.
You may want to visit a liturgical church. You may want to visit a church with a defined ethnic expression.
Visiting all different kinds of congregations allows you to fall in love with the worshipping body of Christ. Our sheer diversity is amazing.
Consider choosing settings with different kinds of music, liturgy, congregation size, art, and architecture.
Take a week off from your normal church setting, and step outside of the little worship bubble we can often become enclosed within.
WAY 2 – TAKE HISTORY IN YOUR POCKET
Every worship and creative leader should be a student of church history. All of the churches you visit, and their expressions of worship, come from somewhere.
Some people in their worship expression speak different languages of worship, of which there are many, like the public reading of Scripture, or corporate prayer, or the recognition of unique worship seasons in the church calendar.
If you aren’t sure where a tradition comes from when you experience it, find out where by doing a little research.
There are some excellent books and courses out there related to worship history, and taking in one or two would be well worth our growth as a leader.
WAY 3 – WRITE DOWN WHAT MOVED YOU
Keep track of the moments that you feel especially connected in worship, and write notes on the experience.
It may be that the “Passing of the Peace” in a very liturgical, Catholic service is most memorable – the moment when you turn to your neighbor and say, ‘Peace be with you.’ Or the music of a black Gospel church may hit you far more deeply than you expected.
These moments are meaningful and moving, and can also be deeply transforming. As you take notes, think about ways what they are doing in worship might reflect on what you are doing in worship in your local church.
WAY 4 – HOLD JOINT GATHERINGS
If you don’t already, you can learn about worship by holding joint worship gatherings with other churches in your area.
There are few experiences more wonderful than an Easter Sunday gathering of multiple congregations coming together and worshipping under one roof, each sharing a different piece of the service!
Something beautiful connects the community of Christ in these moments. You begin to taste and see that the rest of the Church is good and faithful in so many ways.
And almost always in these moments, we get a fresh “taste and see” experience of the reality that God is good.
The best way to learn about worship from other churches is to go and experience one or more of their services in person.
Take a Sunday off from your normal routine, pursue the history behind traditions that you don’t understand or that intrigue you, write down what brings you deeper into worship, and then celebrate the community around you by inviting other churches into your building for joint gatherings.
This article about how to learn about worship originally appeared here, and is used by permission.