Sunday, June 3, 2012

Transforming a Congregation into Poets and Theologians

My church has often left families with impossible choices on Easter Sunday morning.  There's the sunrise service, of course.  But families with children often find it hard to get to a 10:00 a.m. service on time.  Sunrise service is not an option for many.

We also often have a cantata service, which requires sitting and listening for at least 20 minutes--also not a great option for children.

This year, my pastor tried something different, and we were all astounded at how many people came.  It was a more interactive service.

Our "children's sermon" time is traditional in that it has part of the church population come forward. It's non-traditional in that parents often come up, as do adolescents of all ages.

For Easter, our pastor had a basket of everyday objects. Each participant chose an object and went back to the pew to discuss what this object could teach us about God and about the Easter message. Then 10 minutes later, the participants came forward to report.

For those of you who are having trouble picturing this, here's an example: one child took a roll of tape back to the pew. What does tape have to do with God or Easter? Easter is the event that sticks us to God. That's one possibility.

I loved this idea because it involved the people in the pews:  nobody got to be a passive observer.  It forced people to think imaginatively and make connections they might have never made otherwise.  In other words, it forces us to use figurative thinking, the tool of poets.

It helps us do theology in a different way, an interactive way.

We've had similar success with our improv Sunday School.  The learning moves quickly out of the passive realm.

Now for the larger question:  can we sustain this kind of service, week after week?  We live in hope that we can.

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