When I went to college, the approach to education was a one-sided lecture. People still learn from lectures, reading books and newspaper columns. However, whatever method you use, you want to make it interactive. Don’t you think?
What does this mean for 21st century worship services? Is interactive communication beneficial, or does it turn the sacred into a three-ring circus? Robert Schuller, in the television ministry called “The Hour of Power,” started a trend. He began worship by saying, “Good morning,” and the congregation responded, “Good morning!” That “innovation” rapidly spread through many churches. Why?
Focus on these issues:
- Providing an opportunity for people to respond is a great way to help them engage in worship. While there is nothing especially biblical about saying, “Good morning,” most pastors and worshipers alike sensed it provided a catalyst to pump energy into the beginning of worship.
- Many ancient liturgical practices included interaction. The worship leader would say, “The Lord be with you” and the people would say, “And also with you.”
- During the 1980s and ‘90s, many churches updated the way they worshiped by using more contemporary songs and instruments. Worshipers were encouraged to clap along. Some ethnic churches have done this for decades. In some churches, people clap after an inspiring song. Applauding God is a practice from the Old Testament Psalms.
- In some churches, worshipers raise their hands in praise. An extension of this body language is encouraged in other congregations, as people feel comfortable to kneel during certain times in worship. In some churches, it’s acceptable to dance, or to lie face down on the floor. All of these are interactive expressions of worship.
- What about preaching? I’m still looking for a church where people clap after the sermon! I don’t mean the pastor should be applauded for good jokes, but as an expression of thanks to God for the message. Ever wonder how a preacher feels when people applaud when the children sing, yet remain silent after the message?
- Preachers can make their messages more engaging by using visuals. Jesus pointed to the lilies of the field, directed followers to the ripe harvest, used the imagery of the vineyard, and bent down to write in the dirt. Jesus was a visual communicator.
- Preachers engage by asking for input: “Can I see the hands of those who believe they have received an answer to prayer?” This type of interaction engages worshipers and sends a testimony to guests who are not yet believers.
- Some churches use electronic interaction. You can ask a question of the pastor during the message by texting. Others get worshipers engaged by providing an opinion poll or research questionnaire several weeks before a preaching message. Preaching becomes interactive.
What does your church do to engage those in worship? What could be done to make worship more interactive? Jesus did it in the first century, and evidence shows it is important today. We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.
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Hello: We are continuing to seek ways to make the online services more interactive. We have continued our usual practice of encouraging individuals to ask questions during the sermon (lesson).