So my group in the church plant (which is called Thad's, and I'm just going to use that name from now on) has to come up with some principles that will put our lofty mission statement and other jargon into actual practice. Here is what I have come up with so far (note they are a work in progress, some are written well and others are just my thoughts):
1. We are formed into God's people through our worship (rituals?).
(note: this isn't meant to be exclusive, it's just one part of formation)
2. At Thad's, worship leaders (including clergy) are first members of the community and secondarily leaders of it. Any member of Thad's can be a worship leader, and any worship leader must approach his or her ministry from within the the community. 'Worship leaders come from the people, not to them from the outside.' (Thomas G. Long, The Witness of Preaching, p 10-11)
3. Participation in worship leadership is a legitimate, positive way of connecting to God and being transformed by the love of Jesus. Worship leaders are valuable servants to the community who seek to get out of the way as God touches and transforms lives.
4. We will empower people to use their unique gifts, talents, and ideas to create worship. The style and elements of our worship service will be directed by the gifts of our people - we will specifically reflect those whom God has brought together to be Thad's.
5. Diversity: we are not very diverse ourselves, maybe, but that doesn't mean we can't represent the full range of God's people in our songs, instruments, art, and language. We need to remember that the Kingdom, and thus our worship, isn't American - it's from all over the world and 2,000 years of history. I think it would behoove us to add elements from other cultures from time to time, to keep in mind the breadth of the kingdom (and prepare us for the multi-cultural worship of heaven, right?).
6. I believe we should have Scripture included every week in one way or another. This can be by reading (individual or group), singing, chanting, art, or whatever else we may dream up. But too many churches (outside the liturgical realm) ignore the words of Scripture, and they are life-giving.
7. Finally, I would push for Eucharist every week. I know that might seem weird at first. But I think it truly feeds our souls, truly forms us into the people of God. Taking Eucharist does fulfill our mission to transform lives with Jesus' love (quite literally!). And the table can be open, or if not, we can explain why. People generally are cool with that (I've been in a lot of interfaith and unchurched contexts where it's been handled without hurting anyone's feelings).
Hey, that's seven! Must be complete. :)
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