One band, one sound: reimagining worship leadership from the parking lot to the pulpit
Brawley, Chad Kalani
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In the same manner that the first-century church had to shift from traditional Judaism to a radical spiritual imagination that included Gentiles, the contemporary American church must shift from paradigms of church rooted in medieval and modern forms of Christendom to new ideals that are appropriate for the postmodern context in which we now live. This happens, at least in part, by accepting the challenge of reimagining church theology and practices in order to reach more people. The loss of Christianity’s cultural prominence is coupled with the rapid decline in church attendance, leading many churches to face institutional maintenance crises and even impending demise. These phenomena indicate that North America is a ripe mission field for the gospel and that fresh approaches led by the Spirit must be employed to best reap a present-day harvest. The missional imagination provides insight into these approaches by focusing on God’s ultimate mission of world redemption and the church’s role in that process. Missional ecclesiology places discipleship at the center of church ministry. Within a missional orientation, discipleship is understood as the process by which people are introduced to Christ; engaged in perpetual spiritual formation, and grow into faithful, redeemed members of God’s community. In order to be a facilitator of this process, the contemporary church must embrace a missional ideology. Unfortunately, church leaders are not typically trained in the missional imagination. A mission-driven leadership development program is necessary because, in the absence of such a tool, leaders may instinctively default to practices that put the mission of the church at risk. Without missional training, there is an insufficient understanding of the correlation between worship experiences as spiritual formation and the realized mission of the church among team members. I serve as the Worship Pastor at the Luke Church of Humble, Texas. This is the focal site of this project. The hurdles facing the Luke Church are emblematic of the critique that others in the missional church movement have levied against the old, Christian models of church that still pervade many American congregations across the denominational and theological spectrum. For this project, I define worship as more than the fifteen minutes of singing couched within a service, but rather the conglomerate of our efforts to give God full honor, attention, and reverence as we endeavor to live faithfully into God’s redemption of the world. With this understanding, our worship leaders have the opportunity to shape people’s worship life through the intentional and excellent execution of their different roles. I will conduct a three-month leadership boot camp with the liturgical, ministry, and hospitality teams. This training will include general sessions as well as breakouts. Between meetings, participants will participate in readings, guided observation, and discussion groups. At the conclusion of the boot camp, leaders will have gained the necessary tools to reimagine practices within their domain. This leadership intensive will be largely based on the Missional Change Model with pedagogical grounding in Jack Mezirow’s Transformational Learning Theory and Nancy Ammerman’s work on congregational study.
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