• Dale Miller-Bouton

Forward Chats #18 - August 25, 2019

(A Continuation of the Conversation of August 18)


At this Forward Chat, we picked up the topic we had begun last week, when we were trying to understand what elements were actually essential to worship. We began by reviewing the notes from last week and then asked: What does it mean to “worship”? These notes are arranged by topic, not by the order in which they came up in conversation.


Being outdoors in the natural world is an Important way to worship

  • Sometimes one feels closer to God when walking out in nature (GG and RM) than in church

  • The natural world helps you feel there is something bigger than yourself, there’s a sense of awe

  • Exercise is rhythmic, you get into a groove that helps remove the distractions and lets you focus (AT)

  • Sometimes you become unaware of anything but the conversation in the mind

  • For several people it is an opportunity for reflection and self-analysis, to address personal issues

  • For some, the element of vulnerability is important – going out to walk after a crisis of some sort – remembering to ask for help instead of getting entirely wrapped up in your own self


We come to worship communally in church in order to:

  • Share a refreshing experience with other people, bringing us closer to God (GH)

  • Sit peacefully in a safe space, leave behind the week, to relax and open the mind before going forward (PM)

  • Step out of the box of everyday routine and be part of a community that is spiritual

  • Reinforce my value system. Values are passed from person to person, sometimes from sermons, sometimes from other members, often from family members sitting with you (GJ)

  • Help us open up and give the “God In Me” an opportunity to work, through both the interior conversation and also conversations with other people (JM)

  • Be reminded what God is: Goodness, Creator, etc. Coming to church makes you want to be a better person. Can sometimes lose oneself in the group (CT)


In the outside community or in some sort of alternative setting

  • The pop-up vespers service on the beach LS encountered (and others mentioned last week)

  • Sometimes we want to worship within the chaos of the world – to feel worship to be energizing, active, creative (LS)

  • The moment of prayer when athletes kneel when a team-mate is injured (GJ)

  • Sense of losing self in something bigger can happen with music and art (CT)

  • Spirited Women – a place to be safe to be yourself – and not your “formal self”


Questions/Problems

  • I don’t find the peace I once found here – all the change and upheaval is hard. We all seem to be pursuing different agendas. But this kind of peace does not necessarily require a quiet worship. I enjoy doing things differently or having services that are less passive, less about being led. (NK)

  • Sunday is a time to express love for others. Maybe we need to re-examine the hard and fast rules that hem in our current practices in light of that higher principle (GJ).

  • Sense of uncomfortable uncertainty right now. Will the bylaws pass? Who will be our next pastor? Is it even possible to drag people in? Traditional worship is not succeeding right now, and it isn’t likely to succeed with a few tweaks. We need to think go way outside the box to grow the church.

  • We seem to be getting better at change, but we still sense discomfort and suspect the brakes could go on at any moment. (AT, LS)

  • Maybe we don’t really want to be a “missional” church (one that focuses on the community outside the doors). Maybe we need to focus on nurturing the congregation inside rather than outside. (WL)

  • There is a group asking “what about us? What about me?” (JM)

We also had a brief conversation about how—or if—the word worship applies to things other than God, like worshiping money or status. After the meeting, I looked up the dictionary definition. The word comes from the Old English weorthshipe or “worth-ship,” meaning “worthiness, acknowledgment of worth,” so the word worship ultimately has to do with what you assign worth or value to, and by extension what you devote your time and attention to


The primary definition refers to reverence and adoration for a deity, but the word is extended to describe fervent devotion to a person or principle. The concept that people put things other than God first in their lives is implied in both Matthew and Luke: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

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