The ministry of bunting.
Could that be a real thing please? Cause I would rock that.
I’m still getting used to speaking my native language again. When I accidentally drop phrases like ‘cheeky’ and ‘bits and bobs’ with my American twang a certain episode of Friends comes to mind, and it’s not pretty. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I said in a Sunday school planning meeting I wanted to make bunting with the kids- and I got a roomful of blank stares.
It was sort of like the blank stare I gave a young man in a youth group once when he asked- in a traditional, centuries-old church in Northern England- why we always have to sing in our services. I didn’t get it. Singing is, like, what we do in church. Repeatedly. We’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. What’s the question?
Personally, I love to sing. Break out the hymnal, the four-part harmony and just about any kind of accompaniment and I’m good to go. But as it turns out, this boy hated to sing- and even more, he was embarrassed to be heard while singing. We were putting him in an uncomfortable situation week after week, and it was becoming a challenge for him to come to church. With his simple question, my world changed.
I’m not exaggerating. It struck me that in church we create a foreign environment, and I knew exactly how it feels to be the foreigner. When I began to look at worship from the perspective of someone who feels left out and embarrassed when the organ starts to play, I wondered if maybe there are a lot of people who feel the same way and simply don’t come. This lad’s faith was real, his worship was genuine- but we were holding him back from both.
From that day I’ve made it my business to approach worship, prayer, and even communication from different angles, and to think about how to make each one more inclusive of different learning styles and levels of understanding. As I plan, I ask myself- how might someone who’s never done this before feel about it? And it works. Over the years I’ve had many encouraging conversations with kids, teens and adults who’ve said ‘I never felt like I could pray before.’ or ‘I’m tone deaf. And I finally felt like I was a part of worship.’ Music to my ears.
I’ve been challenged and encouraged lately to share some of the things I’ve learned and developed in ministry. So I’m going to do just that- but on one condition. Are you ready? Here it is:
Give it a try.
I promise not to go crazy with the fingerpaint and glitter on you. I aim to explore approaches worship and prayer which break away from the typical auditory learning method and can empower anyone, at any age and at any point on the journey. It’s not about being different for different’s sake- it’s about helping each one of us connect with God in a new and authentic way. And maybe you’re completely comfortable with singing and church and praying with your head bowed and eyes closed. If you are, I’m really glad- but can’t we all learn something from a different perspective?
So, without further introduction (because this one is long enough already). I give you a new feature here at RGB…
Let’s explore spiritual disciplines using all five of our senses, and see what happens. I promise to share things to inspire and help you on your journey, if you promise to give them a try. Deal?
Tune in tomorrow for our first adventure!