Since worship is to hold in reverence that which has worth (the practice of "worth"ship), I believe that it is the most important thing we do together as a community. Worship co-creation, therefore, is one of the most vital parts of my job as a minister.
Firstly, I believe in the power of preaching to elucidate and transform lives. I believe the act of preaching to be a sacred conversation between minister and congregation, and that preaching responds to the needs of the people I serve for pastoral and prophetic ministry. My preaching style is conversational and participatory as a result. I desire to preach with, rather than to, the congregation. I have won three preaching and sermon awards in my rather short preaching career because I take the discipline of homiletics seriously enough to hone my skills and consistently challenge myself in it.
However, I believe that the role of the minister is to not just preach excellent sermons, but to invite participants into the experience of worship; through the use of the sensual arts, embodied ritual, communal prayer, and song. The word liturgy means "the work of the people." I believe in that concept truly. We cannot worship fully when we are alone, and worship is not a spectator sport. In other words, worship is not for me to do while you watch. If all are not invited to fully participate with body and soul engaged, then worship loses its purpose and its heart.
Music is a vital piece of the worship experience for me, especially as a trained musician. Music is the universal language. Well done worship services that speak to a diversity of participants contain diversity in music, from old traditional hymns to contemporary rock, jazz and gospel music. Excellent worship services use music as transitional elements to enter into prayer or to send people forth with celebration.
And worship is a central element in the faith development and religious education of a church because it is the core communal practice of our faith. We do not learn to be human alone, therefore, we do not learn to be religious people alone. Worship is a relationship that necessitates the spiritual transformation of those who participate, and thus I believe that all ages should be invited to worship together, mirroring what the beloved community should look like out in the world.
We worship together to pray for and with one another; to mark rites of passage with one another; to sing; to gaze upon beauty; to mourn; to feel and name awe; and to surrender. We worship to engage the sacred texts of our ancestors, and the sacred texts of our lives, which include our own testimonies. Witnessing the ways that the sacred speaks through each of us uniquely and listening for the sacred voice in one another’s experiences enlivens our whole community, and brings us closer to living our call as God's people.