Questions and Responses About Experiential Worship
Join the conversation as we learn together how to help others worship God more completely! To submit questions you have about Experiential Worship and/or responses you have given, click here.
Q:"Does Experiential Worship work in smaller churches?" R:Absolutely! The whole point of EW is to help people encounter God in all four ways: intellectually, physically, emotionally, and volitionally and then to help them respond to God in all these ways. In some ways this can be accomplished more easily with a smaller group of people. The biggest challenge for small churches is resources, both volunteers and equipment. The key is to organize and do things that fit the scale of your resources. For instance, if you can't afford a video projector, look for simpler ways to create visual images. For a service or series on turning your burdens over to God you could artistically pile up a bunch of luggage to create a visual impact. To deal with limitations in human resources, base your creative elements on the people that you have. Ask people what their creative interests and gifts are and plan things that can utilize those gifts. We have someone who knows sign language so periodically we ask her to artistically sign the words to a special song to give it another expression. If you have 15 year olds who love to play around with video, cut them loose. If you have dancers, let them dance, if you have painters let them paint, if you have poets read their poems, etc. When you have less people involved you need to give them more time, so be sure to get the worship themes nailed down as soon as possible and get the ideas out to people as soon as possible! A six-step pathway for organizing and implementing EW is outlined in my book, Experiential Worship, p, 175-212.
Q:"What is the best way to transition into a more experiential approach to worship?" R: Carefully! Change is always hard in any church, but changes in worship are the hardest. Make sure your leaders understand the missional reasons for making changes to worship and that they are unified about the need for these changes. Prepare for resistance or conflict and plan to deal with this in a healthy, biblical way. Conflict over worship changes is often a symptom of a deeper dysfunction in a church and this might be your opportunity to bring that to light and deal with it. There are three particular roadblocks that need to be addressed when transitioning to a more experiential type of worship: relating to a changing culture, embracing the dual-purpose of worship, and distinguishing between the form and content of worship. These are spelled out in more detail in my book, Experiential Worship, p, 167-178. There are different opinions about making many changes at once or introducing changes gradually over time. I think different situations call for different approaches. If the climate is right for change and you have prepared your people, make quntaum shifts so that people don't have to keep adjusting to constant changes. On the other hand, if there is a lot of resistence, go slowly and introduce one change at a time, allowing people time to adjust. Whatever approach you take, communicate ahead of time what the changes are and why you are making them. Give people a healthy way to give you feedback and take constructive ideas to heart without losing sight of the goal. Remember Experiential Worship is always about helping more people experience God more completely so they can be changed and give more of themselves back to him in worship.