Worship is a subject where everyone seems to have a passionate opinion. You should have no trouble drawing people to discuss what is so important to them about worship. The real key is seeing Jesus’ invitation to worship God with every part of who we are (heart, soul, mind, and strength). Your goal is to help your group see the strengths of their current worship experience, and to create a hunger for deeper intimacy with God. Worship can be a controversial topic. Don’t let your group focus on the negative.
- Read chapters 1-4 of The Experiential Worshiper
- Preview the DVD segment for Session 1
- Get a few children’s puzzles with less than 100 pieces each
Welcome everyone. Break your group into smaller groups and challenge them to finish their puzzle the fastest. Before you give them the puzzle, remove 4 or 5 pieces (its best if they’re not edge pieces). When the groups finish as best they can without all the pieces, ask these questions about the experience:
- What was challenging about this for you?
- Our goal in this session is to discover some vital pieces in our worship life. What are some pieces of worship that seem especially significant to you? Why?
- What if some of those were missing? How would that affect a person’s connection with God?
- Go over the group guidelines and ask people to commit to caring for each other during these six weeks.
DVD Teaching Segment [10:00]
Talk About It [20:00]
- Can you relate to Jesus’ image of heaven as a banquet? In what way is worship like partaking in that banquet?
- What kind of taste does your current experience of worship leave in your mouth — more like fluffy pancakes or hockey pucks?
- Who do you think is ultimately responsible for the quality of your worship life? Explain.
- How would you describe your “recipe” for worship: showing up, spectator, consumer, or something else?
- Which of the four ingredients in Jesus’ worship recipe comes the most naturally to you: HeartWorship (will), SoulWorship (emotion), MindWorship (thoughts), or StrengthWorship (physical)?
- Which of these key ingredients do you think has been lacking in your worship recipe?
- Read pp. 47-48 on chocolate. Have you ever confused the outward form of worship with its content (the chocolate)? Explain.
Bible Study [15:00]
Read Mark 12:28-34
- Why do you think Jesus connects loving God and loving our neighbor?
- Do you think Jesus’ great commandment should be applied to our worship life? Why or why not?
- What does that mean for our worship life?
[Optional] Bible Study Read John 4:5-26.
- Why do you think this woman brought up worship controversies when Jesus began addressing her personal life?
- What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and truth”?
- Think about a time when you ever had an experience of God that affected your thoughts, emotions, actions, and choices? How did it change you?
- How would your worship change if you began to see every aspect of the service as an opportunity to experience God and respond to him?
Experiential Prayer Time [10:00 - 15:00]
Have each member of the group hold a single puzzle piece. Lead them in a prayer of openness toward God’s leading in worship. You might pray something like this… “Gracious God, we thank you for the opportunity to worship you with heart, soul, mind and strength. Help us to be your faithful people in reaching out to a hurting world. Thank you for the rich worship experiences of our tradition. Forgive us if we’ve gotten into any ruts and save us. Please give us wisdom and passion as we explore ways to experience worship more fully. Enliven our taste buds and give us the missing pieces we need to give you the worship you deserve, everything we are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” You might pause during parts of the prayer to let people listen to God’s nudging as he brings up things to confess, or stirs up excitement for new things.
On Your Own
As you prepare and eat meals this week, think about the ingredients that make them taste so good (or not so good!). Use some of your meal times to reflect on an aspect of Experiential Worship that seems most absent from your worship life. Imagine how different things would be, if that ingredient was included in your recipe.