What is Experiential Worship?
For decades churches have been caught up in endless debates about worship styles: traditional vs. contemporary, evangelical vs. charismatic, believers’ vs. seeker services. For centuries each denomination has overtly or implicitly defended their own liturgical tradition as historically correct.
Whatever the approach, if we are honest each of us will admit how easily our services can slip into meaningless rote, driven by habit rather than spiritual passion. Meanwhile, people all around us in our rapidly changing culture are longing for more complete encounters with the living God. Deep inside those of us within the church also long for something greater, a transforming power that seems missing in our services.
The spiritual crisis of our time raises searching questions: How can we create worship gatherings that invite people to move beyond style and habit to encounter God more fully? How can we help people respond to this encounter by giving themselves more completely to God? Jesus’ Great Commandment offers the ancient wisdom we need to answer these questions: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30).
Worship gatherings that reflect Jesus’ vision will invite people to experience and respond to God in all four of these ways: intellectually (with our minds), emotionally (with our souls), volitionally (with our hearts), and physically (with our bodies). When these aspects of human experience come together in a more complete encounter with God and move people to respond, this is what we call “Experiential Worship.”
Planning and leading Experienial Worship gatherings in a local church is a high calling and a holy challenge. We cannot do it alone. We need each other and we need the Holy Spirit. This website is dedicated to helping you find the resources you need to develop a more experiential worship ministry in your local setting. Experiential Worship: Encountering God with Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength (NavPress, 2005) explores this approach in greater depth, outlines a comprehensive process for implementing this in your church, and offers concrete examples from actual Experiential Worship gatherings.
Leaders on Experiential Worship:
“When my gramma learned something new, she used to say, not “That makes sense!” but “My stars!” or “I declare!” Revelation is filtered through imagination and wonder as much as through reason and logic. In this milestone book for the church in the 21st century, Rognlien shows how worship can integrate the great traditions of the rational and the experiential.”— Leonard Sweet, Ph.D., Professor, Drew Theological School, George Fox University, Post-Modern Pilgrims, SoulTsunami, AquaChurch,
“There are exciting new developments brewing in the church - hopeful signs of better days ahead. Experiential Worship provides an accessible, thoughtful, enjoyable, and personal pathway into one of the most important arenas of the spiritual life. It will be a great resource for people across the range of Christian denominations and worship styles, a book to read and recommend to others.”—Brian McLaren, pastor and author, The Church on the Other Side, A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy,
“Bob Rognlien’s passionate offering in this book is nothing less than a reality check . . . For way too long, we have imagined that information was the key to transformation; that if one only had enough God-data in the cerebral cortex, one would have God. Bob Rognlien – pastor, worship leader and craftsman – knows better. His loving but incisive work shatters this long-held mythology, and does so with great care. Rognlien’s worship theology is the result of solid study; his worship practice honed by years of experience; his personal worship life, a rich and humble journey; and his worship passion, unmistakable: to engage people with God with every sense and at every possible level.”—Sally Morgenthaler, author and worship innovator, Worship Evangelism,
“In this fast moving, well-written book Bob Rognlien has created a road map from the narrow worship of the modern world to the convergence worship of the postmodern era. Experiential Worship manages to remain faithful to Biblical and Ancient worship while it calls us at the same time to a full experience of physical, visual, sensate, emotional and heartfelt worship of God.”—Robert Webber, Ph.D., Professor, Northern Seminary, author of over 40 books on worship, The Younger Evangelicals, Ancient-Future Faith, Worship Old & New
“In our emerging culture, we must think beyond only having preaching and singing as how we respond to God when the church gathers to worship. Experiential Worship shows why this is not only biblical, but how to begin worshiping with our heart, mind, soul and body.”—Dan Kimball, pastor and author, The Emerging Church, Emerging Worship, www.vintagefaith.com
“The author's passion for worship and for guiding others to encounter God is evident throughout this book. Bob Rognlien has made a significant contribution to the dialogue surrounding how all of us who are entrusted to facilitate worship can do our job with greater Biblical, historical and cultural understanding. Experiential Worship casts a vision that stretches the reader, and then backs up that vision with practical examples that can actually work on a Sunday morning in church. I highly recommend this book for any of us who have the profound privilege of planning and facilitating worship gatherings.”—Nancy Beach, Arts Director of Willow Ministries, An Hour on Sunday, The Source
“Bob Rognlien takes us beyond black and white text orientation; beyond the metaphorical exploration; beyond mere worship construction to a place where heart, soul, mind, and strength can connect with God in experience. The emerging world of worship engages all the senses and Bob’s work can help worship planners put theory into practice.”—Handt Hanson, Director of Worship Arts, Prince of Peace, Burnsville, MN, Mission Driven Worship