Question: I recently received this question from Bronwyn Barkmever, a Salvation Army officer in Australia on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NashvilleBerryStreet):
“We are embarking upon an adventure of ‘out of the box’ worship and want to take this opportunity to explore different styles of worship and ways of connecting with God as well as foster greater unity and intimacy within our congregation. I was wondering if you could maybe share some suggestions with me as to what may have worked for you guys which we may be able to use in our particular context here.
1) Read the story of the young boy Samuel hearing the Lord speak to him. Have everybody pray Samuel’s prayer aloud: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then have them be still and listen to God for a minute or two. Then ask people to share what they heard. (This is a powerful exercise.)
2) Ask who needs prayer. Then have people gather around her/him, laying on hands, and pray aloud for her/him.
3) Ahead of time, ask a different person each week to share a 10 minute salvation testimony about how they first encountered Jesus Christ.
4) Ask people ahead of time to find a Scripture that means a lot to them and then read it to the congregation the following week and share what it means to them.
5) Tell the congregation about Jesus’ first miracle (in John) and what His mother said to the servants: “Whatever He says to you do it.” Then have people wait on God and say or do in the meeting, whatever He tells them to.
Be sure to set it up by letting people know that there is no pressure and that they don’t have to sound wise or professional. Instead, all they need to do is speak from their heart as they feel prompted by the Spirit. God bless as you lead people to step into the unscripted flow of His Spirit.
*After reading this blog post, Salvation Army officers (pastors), Royal and Donna Senter, sent me this exciting message today about how they are trying to help their Salvation Army corps/church in Toronto, Canada, be more participatory:
“We have started by introducing ‘Sharing Sundays’ twice in the year where there is no formal sermon but the people share whatever God has put on their hearts. We have had two and they were very well received. This goes along with increasing participation of corps people in planning and conducting the meetings every week, we also have a policy that leaders can change the order of service on the spot if they feel the Spirit moving them. I hope to introduce Q&A Sundays and maybe even a Q&A period during regular meetings just to encourage more involvement and more opportunity for the Spirit to move. It isn’t easy to change a corps when people have been there a long time but if we do it slowly, it isn’t overwhelming for people.”