What to expect at a Grace service
The service is never the same thing twice.
Each service can have a different theme and a different shape. The café is the only fixed element. We plan the rest from scratch every time, so what happens can vary hugely. Events are planned by a 'curator' and a group of volunteers - for more information see How a Grace service is made. Sometimes we revisit a theme or structure, but we change the content; or we reuse old content in a new context.
Some things that usually happen:
- Background music - ambient, chill-out, funky.
- Stations - places with things for you to do individually.
- Video - images and movies as visual background or to make a point, words of liturgy.
- Discussions - in small groups or as a whole congregation.
- Writing, drawing, making things.
- Moving around the worship space.
- A cafe with wine and food.
Some things that usually don’t happen:
- A ‘time of worship’ or worship band. For us worship isn’t just songs. It’s everything we do as a gift to God. In a lot of what happens you will be asked to make your own response to God - make your own gift of worship.
- Sitting in the same place all the time.
- A sermon or address. Teaching happens through every element of the service. It’s all been carefully planned around a single theme.
There aren’t any fixed roles or one person who is always the worship leader.
Everybody gets to do a bit of everything. There are ordained people in the community, but they don't lead the worship unless they have been given something to do by the curation team.
Holy Communion doesn't happen at every service, unless it fits naturally with what we're doing.
We usually like to do it as part of a community meal. The only part of our worship that is always done by an ordained person is the eucharistic prayer, in order to obey the rules of the Church of England.
The music and visuals connect with our lives outside of Grace.
We are all used to a soundtrack in our lives, from the TV or radio in the background, to muzak in lifts, to moments of silence. The music we use forms part of our soundtrack, creating a vibe of contemplation, excitement, peace whatever is appropriate. As we use contemporary music you might recognise some of the tracks, your music collection may even overlap with ours.
The visuals are complementary to the other parts of the service: more than wallpaper, less intrusive than an advert, hopefully they help make connections that may be missed otherwise.
First time round this might all seem a little unusual.
If so, feel free to just sit, or lie down, and take it all in. Grace is not formal or intense - it’s laid-back and relaxed. For much of the service you’ll be able, even encouraged, to move around, meet others, play with things, talk.
There’s no pressure to join in if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about anything. It’s OK to just watch. However, please be sensitive to what’s happening - for instance, don’t disturb people who are praying, go outside to answer your phone, respect the atmosphere we’ve tried to create.
Grace is intended to be a space where we can explore issues or ideas before God in relative freedom.
We don’t set many limits for what can or can’t be done or said in church. Often we’re trying things out for the first time, so if something doesn’t work please forgive us! We’re still learning.
Grace draws ideas and methods from a range of Christian traditions, while reinterpreting them into contemporary language and media. So even things that seem weird or foreign in terms of conventional church may have strong Christian roots. Or we may have just made them up!
We don’t have all the answers. Sometimes we present our questions, for you to make up your own minds. There won’t always be one correct way to respond - you’ll have to make choices or be creative.
We may not cover all aspects of a topic in one service, but we hope that things balance out over time. Similarly, if worship seems very individual one time, it will be collective another time; if it’s largely discussion one time, it will be largely prayer another time. Usually we try to provide a balanced mix in each service, but that may not be possible depending on the theme and how we’ve chosen to approach it. Don't judge us on just one service. Come to two or three if you can, to give yourself time to get used to this way of worshipping.
If you have questions about theology or how the service is made, members of the Grace team will be very happy to answer them after the service.
Photography and filming
Members of Grace will probably take photos or movies during the service, as a record for ourselves [every Grace service is more or less unique] and to show others who are interested in 'emerging church' what we do. You are welcome to take your own photos or movies, but please observe our rules of worship photography which are:
- Respect people's privacy
- Don't take pictures close up unless you know the person and they don't mind
- Don't be distracting or obtrusive
- Don't click your shutter in moments of silence
- Don't use flash!
Our photos and movies may be published on the internet or in print - by attending the service you will be assumed to have given your permission for photographs and movies containing you to be published in this way. If you have any questions talk to a member of the team.