Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What to look for in the parish

When I was a small child, I had a series of Ladybird books which set out to be gently educational, and had wonderful illustrations by an artist called Tunnicliffe, whom I later discovered to have quite a serious reputation, beyond the world of children’s books.
They covered what to look for at each season of the year, at the seaside, in the country and even, if I remember rightly, in a country church.
I loved all the titles, and would always take them when my father and I set off to explore the countryside (a regular feature of my early years)
Right now, though I’m wishing they’d update the series to include a volume
What to look for in your first parish

As I try to prepare for the applications and interviews that lie ahead I’m trying really hard to determine not only what I might be able to bring to a church community, but what I need from a community if I’m to flourish there. I really want to remember the wisdom of the wonderful Claire that it’s very very easy for anyone applying for their first “responsibility post” to be so blown away when they are actually offered a job that they’ll say “Yes” to anything.
Sometimes, of course, this is fine – at others, the match is less happy – so it’s really essential to have your own "bottom lines" clear.
So in a bid to clarify my ideas, I thought a mini series of my own might help…

Nobody who reads here regularly will doubt that creative worship really matters to me. I value doing traditional liturgy as well as possible, but I also need room to dream and look sideways, to re-shape and dream some more. Sometimes, if things are particularly hectic, it’s only when preparing this sort of worship for others that I really manage to engage with God myself.
So, I want to be somewhere where this can happen.
I need to be somewhere where this can happen.
The question is,

Does worship create community or community create worship?
We may be fed by the alternative worship movement and long to engage with people beyond the borders of traditional church, but creative worship takes oceans of time and resources...which is kind of tough if there's only one person doing this. And it seems to me that one hallmark of emerging church is that it is a grass-roots phenomenon...aspiring to be a church without leadership, a community church. So if we're the only ones who get the vision, where does that leave us?
Specifically, where does this leave me, as Hugger Steward, my main alt worship ally in the past 3 years, will be off to uni in the autumn? And what questions should I ask to determine how far a church that claims to be interested in exploring “creative worship” actually wants to go?

5 comments:

Mary Sue said...

Oooh, yay! Good series. I'll be watching it with an eye for printing it out and then tying down St. Thatguy's forthcoming Search Committee and making them read it. *nods*

Preacher Mom said...

"...I’m trying really hard to determine not only what I might be able to bring to a church community, but what I need from a community if I’m to flourish there."

I am so glad to that you are doing this. From my own current perspective (and thanks so much for your words of encouragement), I now know more than ever how important this is! God bless and guide your search!

Anonymous said...

Just assume that 95% of parishes have put in their spec becuase the Bishop or a Archdeacon or several Church Times readers think it is a good idea and you will not go far wrong.

The parishes that are genuinely interested ( the other 5% will already be doing something and be writing about it, or will be able to offer you examples of what they have experienced elsewhere and aspire to - so if it is important then ask them what they mean by it.

Its a bit like those parishes which claim to be committed to work with children - they are not really committed to children - they just like having them around as a future insurance policy.

Songbird said...

Small Church never would have asked for creative worship, but when it started to happen organically, they loved it. It happened slowly and in the middle of things, not separately and set aside, and that's what worked for that setting. There are so many ways to enrich worship, especially for a person as creative as you are, K. You'll be drawn to the right place by those same instincts, I believe it.

Sally said...

Prayers as you enter into this process Kathyrn, I'll be doing the same thing ( Methodist version) this time next year, I believe your questions to yourself and to the church are good, the key will be in listening to the answers... and discerning the real answers...
as I said prayers.