Today was the training day that i mentioned in earlier posts - and what a fantastic day it was. Helped by one of the colleagues from my own team the small group of worship leaders being trained started the day with worship, then straight into some innovative and forcefully presented ideas for All-Age & Family Friendly worship and talked about making a worship space that really invited and embraced all ages with a reminder that worship for all ages is not worship for Children, and that including children did not mean dumbing-down or over-simplification. As she said, 'we should put as much effort into welcoming children as we do into bringing in adult members of our Churches - why is it that we put them in a corner with a tatty teddy, a few old books with their covers missing and some incomplete jigsaws yet wouldn't dream of offering a hymn book with pages missing or a prayer book that was old and worn out to the members of our congregation'.
Challenged and inspired by this myself and another collegue (who is actually the planner and co-ordinator of the course) then covered such diverse issues as worship for youth, technology and 'alternative' worship and some theological reflection on worship as Evangelism. This led in to a very worthwhile practical exercise of putting together some worship based around particular scenarios that had been encountered in various Churches. It was creative, dynamic, hard work, but immensely enjoyable and gave me some great ideas for worship tomorrow at Eltisley, one of my parishes, where we are having an 'All Age Service' on the theme of 'Philip and the Ethiopian Official (don't think i want to spend half the talk discussing what a Eunuch was!
It was a great reminder of the creativity and commitment that exists in our Churches, and of the gifts and talents that abound in our worshipping communities, talents so often pushed down by a misbegotten sense of Clergy being responsible for everything! I know this isn't always the case, and is less the case in non-Conformist churches, but in the c of e, especially in Rural areas, it is still a common misconception that 'we don't do x or y - that's the Vicar's job'. I'm not trying to shirk responsibility, but when worship and Evangelism become the work of the whole body of Christ, then we see our Churches grow and flourish and we fulfil our Biblical Mandate of being 'one body, with Christ as the head'.
Now its time for me to prepare my bit for tomorrow, with a need to apologise that I've not had time to meet with the family worship team to plan the service, and will be taking on most of it myself. Ironic, but reality at present until things settle down a bit. Next week looks hopeful, though!