- Unprogrammed Programmed or Programmed Unprogrammed?
- Where to Sit: A Shift in Architecture
- The End of the Quaker Pastorate
- Seeking the Seekers
In the "Unprogrammed Programmed or Programmed Unprogrammed?" I said that what Quakers have for others (and ourselves) is a winsome invitation – to meet God. It's this idea of silence being an opportunity for participatory listening to/for God sets us apart from other Christians. We don't have a mass or proclamation of the Word as other Christians do. So we should scrap a written order of worship included in a bulletin and formalized worship planning (again as in the order -- "We'll do this now and that next and then..."). Let's trust the Spirit to lead worship.
I said I felt that if we did that that perhaps more of us would come prepared to encounter the Divine because worship would require us to be to be more participatory. We could recapture the idea that we are each responsible for being fed in worship -- and stop looking to the singing, or choir, or message from some "official person" to feed us.
I said I was not proposing that we scrap singing, choir, sermon, etc. No. Choirs can still rehearse. Pastors can still plan sermons. What I was saying that we should hold worship in holy silence and trust God to lead people to sing, share, sermonize at the right time. We should also try to find creative ways to involve children and kids and young adults in worship.
I said our goal in ditching the printed (or implied) order of worship was to create a sense of spiritual hospitality in the silence where there was a feeling of expectation that “anything, God willing” can happen -- and would!
In "Where to Sit" I noted that the buildings of Friends churches (primarily) resemble other church buildings and that this seating arrangement puts the focus on people and performance — not on God. Again we have no mass to celebrate or Word to be proclaimed by an ordained clergy authorized to do just that, so why are we all facing the front? This doesn’t fit what Quaker worship should be about — welcoming the presence of Christ in our midst.
I said we should do a seating arrangement something like this:
I then gave three reasons for this alteration. One is so we change from looking at a particular place from which we expect ministry to a view that says ministry comes from anywhere/anyone. The second reason is that the said rearrangement makes it easier to hear vocal ministry which can arise from anywhere. The third reason is so that we can see the faces of those God has gathered that day -- as we see the gathered community, we pray for, care, and love them.
The next proposal was to "End the Quaker Pastorate." In this I noted that the concern about Quaker pastoral ministry has always been that it will evolve into “profession.” Using the word "Pastor" has led us more toward that evolution, especially since most congregations members have a well formed idea of what a pastor is based on their experience in other congregations. A former Lutheran turned Quaker has an idea of what a pastor is and does that is different from what Roman Catholic turned Quaker does and what a Quaker who's always been Quaker. All of which may be completely different from what the reality of what a Quaker paid minister should be -- some odd creation!
For our congregations to be receptive to the Spirit in this day, there are four needs.
- specialized ministry of a trained and called paid minister and the universal ministry of a called and equipped congregation
- the meeting for worship must be free from rigidity which prevents the workings of the Spirit
- preaching in our meetings for worship must be under the leadership of the Spirit.
we must adhere to Friends’ business methods and never let power and authority be centralized in the pastor
- paid ministers and the other members of the meeting must be trained in the art of silence.
Lorton Huesel, former General Secretary of Friends United Meeting and a Friends pastor, formulated these -- not me!
I proposed that a new descriptive name could be 'released minister.” This helps us recover the idea that all of us are ministers and recapture the Friendly idea that there are many types of ministry. We also need to encourage local Friends congregations to recognize those among them who exhibit gifts of ministry – but may not be “professionals.”
In the "Seeking the Seekers" section, I said that we needed to think outside the Church Box by becoming more missional and reaching out to those who would resonate with our message. I showed three videos...
Seeking the Seekers, Part 1
Seeking the Seekers, Part 2
Then I spoke about using Social Media to advertise this retreat. I took out a Facebook ad for this conference and targeted people who live in the United States, aged age 18 and older
who like Quaker, Quakers or Religious Society of Friends. The ad generated 120,000 views in 9 days and resulted in 180 clicks on the Quaker Hill Conference Center site for a cost of $47.55.
We then broke into four small groups to based on interest in these four topics. My next post will be the notes those interest groups developed.