a worship.hack (defined here) is a proposed change or question of the way worship typically works to open it up to more people, either in substance or in style. Read on for relevant critiques of worship!
I took two very dear friends to their first Reconciling worship service…it was the one at General Conference. They enjoyed themselves, but had an interesting comment for me that hits pretty close to home.
My friend said this:
I really enjoyed the service, but one thing stuck out to me. With all the discussion about including gays and lesbians, minorities, non-able-bodied people, and singing about including everyone in worship together…well, I felt left out. I don’t fit into any oppressed category, but I simply didn’t know any of the names they were dropping. Gil Caldwell? Tracy West? Karen Oliveto? The woman given the yoke of Christ at the end whose story was not shared? All those insider knowledge I knew nothing about.
That’s a tough critique. How often in our worship services do we use the language of insiders that is comfortable to us on the inside, but unknown to those on the outside?
I hear what he said: I knew all the names because of my familiarity, but even the woman at the end was unknown to me. So to see the glazed look in my friends’ eye and the names being scribbled down for me to give the story about later…well, I realized that the language of insiders can be inhospitable to outsiders. We can drop non-name insider words as well. Words like “prevenient grace” in UMC churches can glaze over newcomers’ eyes (and old-timers as well!).
But at the same time, we like inside jokes. We like inside comments that are the language of insiders, and then we feel like insiders. The joy of realizing what they are talking about is a valuable worship experience.
I don’t know..what do you do in your worship services that opens up the language of insiders to others? How do you, as a receiver, want to know about the language of insiders? Would a glossary in the bulletin work?