News Archives

Pastors bring creative styles to worship

 


Pastors bring creative styles to worship

Sept. 28, 2004

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Recent worship services at Clarks Chapel United Methodist Church
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)- If you are in the Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank’s congregation, it is not likely you will fall asleep.

She quotes Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, and actress Whoopi Goldberg when explaining her philosophy about worship.

"John Wesley said, ‘I set myself on fire, and they come to see me burn.’ Whoopi Goldberg said, ‘Let’s get some butts in the seats.’ I’m just trying to get some butts in the seats," she says.

Escobedo-Frank is a United Methodist pastor serving at the Community Church of Joy, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glendale, Ariz. She will be leading workshops at some of the teaching conferences sponsored by the United Methodist Publishing House this fall. The conferences are designed to inspire worships leaders to create more vibrant worship. The events are part of Worship Connection, a new resource from the Publishing House.

A sermon Escobedo-Frank has developed and used successfully includes a kind of musical chairs activity involving different kinds of hats.

"The keyboard interrupts me about four or five times in my sermon, and every time there is an interruption, then people jump up and change hats with someone else," she explains. The sermon talks about all the hats people wear and the roles people play. "The point is, the only hat we have to wear is that of loving God and people.

"Sometimes I get a little worried about how people will respond. I have gone out on a limb a time or two," she admits.

But being creative is "in our DNA," Escobedo-Frank says.

The Rev. Rob Weber, pastor at Grace Community United Methodist Church in Shreveport, La., and another worship leader for the conferences, agrees. "As beings created in the image of God, one of the characteristics that we bear is the image of creativity.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Don Perry

Opening worship at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference
"Culture and language shape the form of worship everywhere," Weber says. "Worship should shape the soul of the congregation and thus the surrounding culture."

Weber says he uses a variety of technology and art in his church, from videos to paintings to modeling clay. One of the best ways to engage the congregation is to use children, he adds.

He has given disposable cameras to the children in his congregation and sent them out to capture images of where they see God’s love and where they see God’s people serving. The photos are developed, with the children’s help, into a PowerPoint presentation.

"Using the eyes of a child helps people awaken to seeing with eyes of faith."

Both Weber and Escobedo-Frank say creative worship is not all about the latest technology.

Escobedo-Frank says she was inspired by a conference at the church she now serves, but then she had to go back to her small congregation and find ways to be creative on a limited budget.

"They had all the bells and whistles of technology, and it was beautiful," she says. "But then I went back to my own place and thought, ‘How do I do that here? I don’t have money for all that stuff, let alone the expertise.’

"My aim and hope is that people from small churches will come out of these teaching conferences thinking, ‘I can do this,’" she says.

"If you balance it (technology) with faith and with expressions of faith through members of the congregation, then that’s where you find it to be most powerful," Weber says.

The teaching conferences are not about any single form or worship, nor are they about a presentation of "middle of the road" worship, he says.

"Worship, across the face of the church, cries out for energy and renewal of creativity in every form of worship."

Weber says one of the most effective things he has done in his church is form a creative ministries team, which brings together people from a lot of different backgrounds. He gives them direction on the theme and Scripture, then steps back and lets them be creative.

"Together, they brainstorm ways to engage the congregation in worship, call forth the creative gifts of the congregation, and help make the message and presence of God accessible from many different angles."

The first thing to do is pray and recruit members of the congregation to pray with you, he adds.

Escobedo-Frank says the gifts aren’t the message.

"Sometimes that is where we get messed up," she says. "Sometimes when we use creativity, we begin to worship that instead of worshipping God, and that’s a line we have to be careful never to cross."

Details on the teaching conferences and Worship Connection are available at www.worshipconnection.cokesbury.com.

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email:*
ZIP/Postal Code:*
Question:*

*InfoServ ( about ) is a service of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW


Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.