Perhaps a church service is like a sprinkler system on a golf course in Arizona. If only one sprinkler works and all the rest are shut down, almost all the grass dries up and withers. However, if every sprinkler shares its living water, the golf course flourishes with life and beauty.
Searching the internet recently, I discovered several reviews of a book called: The Power of All: Building a Multivoiced Church, by Sian and Stuart Murray Williams. It’s exciting! Their concept of church matches what we do at The Salvation Army Berry Street, where for 5 1/2 years, everyday people have been showing and telling what God has done in the Sunday morning meeting.
Here are some quotations I found in some of the reviews:
“We believe multivoiced (participatory) church equips the Christian community for mission, stimulates personal growth, encourages responsible discipleship, protects the community from many ills, and allows God’s Spirit freedom to accomplish so much more in and through the church . . . the whole community is gifted, called, empowered, and expected to be involved in all aspects of church life.”
“Multivoiced church anticipates that God may speak or act through any member of the church. No longer is the Christian community largely passive, dependent on a few authorized ministers to preach, conduct worship, provide pastoral care, engage in mission and exercise leadership. Men and women, young and old, educated and illiterate, rich and poor find their voices.”
“In our complex and evolving culture, no preacher or church leader, however gifted, has all that we need. What we need, if we are to develop creative and thoughtful responses to the many issues that confront us day by day, is the shared experience, knowledge, expertise and wisdom of the whole community (church).”
Active participants in healthy multivoiced (participatory) churches are much more likely to be confident in sharing their faith with others, ready to engage in social action, hospitable to their neighbors, alert to pastoral opportunities beyond the church, and able to participate in gracious dialogue with people of other faiths or none. The skills we learn in multivoiced churches are transferable to other spheres of life. The responsibility of being active participants, rather than passive consumers, will stand us in good stead as we interact with others in different contexts…”
Other names for multivoiced church include: organic church, participatory church, simple church, and sermon-free church. If you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, experience multivoiced church for yourself with us on Sunday mornings at 10:45, 225 Berry Street, 37207.