The Craft of Worship

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1 Feb, 2023

“I must admit that I am a bit of a beginner when it comes to liturgy. High church is not my background nevertheless I have always cared about the craft of worship. More recently I have felt a bit at odds with some aspects of contemporary worship and it seemed to me there is often something missing.

At Adelaide Place we have experimented in small ways by encouraging our worship to coincide more intentionally with the church calendar however it was during my recent sabbatical that I attended a retreat which really sparked something in me. I felt almost obliged to pursue this new impulse when I came back to my normal rhythm. As a result, ‘A Liturgy Collective’ was born as an exploratory next step which attempts to create a space where worship leaders, pastors and spiritual guides could get together for refreshment as well as deeper reflection on the actual practices of corporate worship.

It was important for me that this space would allow us to hold the aspects of worship we treasure most deeply without any fear of correction or subtle rebuke. The space was to see what could happen as these things we treasure were given space to deepen as they sit alongside the Great Tradition and other diverse practitioners. What will emerge is very fluid but there are two analogies that I keep coming back to which help describe the sort of contribution this Liturgy Collective can make . One is about diet and the other is about language.

As a guide on my retreat said, “4 rock songs and a hymn with a pep talk rally is not a bad meal, it’s just not good to have it all the time“. I got the message and I agreed. I think we need a broader diet in our worship that sustains faith in all seasons, not just perpetual feel good vibes from week to week.
The second analogy was about what we naturally do when teaching children language and help them form an adequate vocabulary for life. We teach our children words they don’t realise they are going to need (please, sorry, thank you). Similarly, in worship, we need to learn or practice words that sooner or later we are going to really need (eg: Lament!). In effect, both of these analogies are about breadth and depth.
You can track the details of our next collective through our Instagram page @aliturgycollective. It will be in Edinburgh on Saturday 4th March, 10.30 am – 2pm (bookings open very soon as we confirm the venue). My sense is that this one in particular could be very significant as we pick up the theme of Lament. Dave Richards and Jenny Walley will be our guides.
We will be learning by doing and I would encourage any leader to come along who cares about the craft of worship and amidst the weariness of ministry still hungers for the presence of God.”
By Rev Stephen Crothers, Pastor at Adelaide Place Baptist Church, Glasgow

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