Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

May 1998: Whose alternative?

This service was a follow-up to the 'Reimagining Worship' conference of that weekend in Hackney.

photos here

1. welcome

2. songs:

'adoramus te domine' 'bless the lord my soul' steve's psalm read over music

3. reflection on god from psalm 34

taste and see that the lord is good; god hears/listens to our frustrations and desires; god delivers and changes (jenny)

4. prayer with incense

o lord hear my prayer loop (dave)

5. report back on weekend and story of grace to now

(mike)

6. what is the way forward?

questionnaires and groups - refreshments during this bit (dave)

Questionnaire:

This was handed out to the congregation at 'Whose alternative?' We were trying to get a feel for where we were and where we should aim to go.

  • your age?
  • your sex?
  • alone or in a group?
  • where do you come to grace from?
  • why do you come?
  • how did you hear about us?
  • is grace your only church experience or is it a supplement to other church activities?
  • what is your main source of spiritual input?
  • where do you find god in the world?
  • what would you like to see grace doing?
  • would you like to get more involved in grace? [for example: ideas, music, helping set up and take down, slides, video, lighting etc]
  • is there anything you'd like to ask us?

7. core group feeling need for more. what about you?

groups and feedback (jonny)

On the questionnaire we asked, 'Is there anything you'd like to ask us?' Here are some of those questions, with our replies.

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

If you did a morning service would it take a different format?

The visuals would be a problem due to the daylight, but the general format and methods would work. The atmosphere would be different - would meditation work well without low light conditions?

Do you write/invent the stories/ideas etc - if not where do you get them?

Much of the stuff we do write or invent ourselves, but we also quote directly from a wide variety of sources including Mike Riddell, Douglas Coupland, Thomas Merton, Celtic liturgy and poetry both ancient and modern, CS Lewis, and traditional Anglican practice and writing. Of course what we do is also informed by all the Christian activities we have been involved in, services we have been to, theology we have read, music, magazines, television, film etc...and our experiences in life.

Is alternative worship actually becoming the new mainstream?

Not yet it isn't. We should be so lucky.

How do you become more inclusive and less led from up front?

If we had a bigger proportion of the congregation involved as part of the team there would be less of the same faces and voices. We are also considering forms of service which could run themselves to a greater degree - at the moment it is necessary to guide people through what is going on. We always try to include activities and discussions that the congregation can do without intervention from the front, and can give feedback on, but inevitably there has to be some leadership to give direction and shape, and to provide the stuff that has to be prepared earlier.

Is there room here for people who want to celebrate life and worship God,
but who don't necessarily believe that Jesus is more important than any other 'enlightened mystic'?

Yes, but we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son, so you won't agree with everything we say or do.

Is the girl with long blonde hair single and what is her phone number?

I'm sorry I can't tell you that.

Why are there so many things in St. Mary's for me to knock over?

There aren't - you're just clumsy.

Is it usual to have these feelings about the other members of the group?

Yes, entirely. Come and see me about it later.

grace questionnaires 10/5/98

some analysis

34 questionnaires filled in as follows:

  • 1 vicar
  • 4 grace team
  • 5 from lbc
  • 3 from gillingham who heard about grace at spring harvest
  • 7 a youth group from sunbury-on-thames who heard about grace at brainstormers creative worship day
  • 4 from st. mary's
  • 4 others who live in ealing but worship elsewhere
  • 1 ruislip
  • 1 heathrow
  • 1 west twyford
  • 1 croydon
  • 2 sussex

ages:

  • 0-13 1 (baby)
  • 14-18 8
  • 19-25 9
  • 26-35 7
  • 36-45 6
  • 46-55 4
  • 56+ 0

29 out of 34 said grace was a supplement to other church activities

note - everyone not on the team was involved in regular church activity elsewhere

familiar faces:

  • paul wainwright
  • pete clouston
  • pete freeman
  • neil hopkins

6 want to get more involved:

  • neil hopkins [ideas, help set up, open house for those in nw london (?)]
  • 3 other lbc attendees [one-off services, youth camps etc] [keyboards] [art, words, singing]
  • paul wainwright [ideas, songwriting]
  • one of the sunbury youth group [lighting]

things people want us to do more of:

  • wider/more publicity
  • small groups/social functions

8. prayer

(steve)

sometimes
maybe you choose not to know
what we are about to do
because you want us to surprise you
with our imagination and creativity

you made us in your image
with the power to create something new
unlike anything done before

and, just as the angels were astonished and delighted
when you created this universe

seeing something they could begin to experience, but not explain beforehand,
because it was itself the words of its own explanation
which could only be spoken by living them

so you want us to bring you the same delight and astonishment
as our gift back to you

and so we offer ourselves and our works
our worship and our anger
our best moments and our worst moments
our songs and our silences
our tears and our laughter
in surprise and delight at finding ourselves loved

as you hesitate at the door in anticipation
wondering
whatever next?

9. song: 'i bind unto myself today'

quotations for slides:

'culture is not a means to an end for christians to use to get people into heaven. it is the purpose of their creation and re-creation'
graham cray

'the gospel must be constantly forwarded to a new address because the recipient is repeatedly changing his/her place of residence'
helmut thieliche

'the life experience of young people in modern industrialsed societies has changed quite significantly over the last two decades'
finlay and cartmel

'how we consume is an integral part of the kind of person we are and the kind of person we present to the wider world'
wyn and white

'the spirituality of our culture has a motor of addiction - so if we don't disciple well we produce christian consumers not culture transformers'
graham cray

'choice is at the centre of consumerism, both as emblem and core value'
gabriel and lang

'it is the characteristic of our age that there is little sense of community, of any real sense of history, as the present is all that matters'
jon savage (the face)

'if the savings book was the epitomy of modern life, then the credit card is the paradigm of the postmodern one'
zygmunt bauman

'i'm a non religious person looking for a religious experience'
chris carter (x files writer)

'the church is bottom of the confidence ratings for those under 35 but ranks third (out of thirteen institutions) for those over 50.'
european values survey

'the word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood'
john (gospel writer)

'artists express the soul of a culture'
dean borgman

'music is the breath of god breezing out into the universe'
mike riddell

'the drugs don't work'
the verve

'it's a bittersweet symphony this life
trying to make ends meet you're a slave to money then you die.....

i'm a million different people from one day to the next...

i never pray but tonight i'm on my knees
i need to hear some sounds that recognise the pain in me'

the verve

'they ask where the hell i'm going at 1000 ft per second
hey man slow down! idiot slow down!'

radiohead

'there ain't no real truth
there ain't no real light
keep on pushing because i know it's there.....
i just can't make it alone'

the verve

'life is instantly repackaged as advertising or cartoon, as tabloid drama or household brand'
the face (essay on nineties)

'perhaps one of the things the nineties has been about is the search for authenticity as opposed to all these disneylands'
the face (essay on nineties)

'if it's the real thing we're wanting just where do we find it? the nineties quest for life and some sort of authenticity coupled with a gradual loss of faith in the capacity of big ideas and beliefs to save our souls has led us to make up our own truths, build our own small worlds as best we can'
the face (essay on nineties)

'what is there left to believe in? only yourself, your friends, your humour, your obsessions, your idea of a good time, your idea of what matters. and the great thing about the nineties is that your idea can matter'
the face

'if there's a key to the nineties i think it's that perpetual insecurity. never have peple thought so hard about their lives and come to such indecision or felt further apart..... if there's going to be an epitaph for the nineties it will be 'by the end we all felt like victims''
damon albarn (blur)

'we inhabit a civilisation of crumbling confidence, in which it is hard to be sure of anything'
felipe fernandez-armesto

'an evangelist must respect the culture of a people not destroy it. the incarnation of the gospel, the flesh and blood which must grow on the gospel is up to the people of a culture'
vincent donavon

'perhaps it is unsurprising that many christians perceive the emerging culture as the enemy and look for ways to protect themselves against it. but faith requires risk'
mike riddell

'in recent decades we have passed like alice slipping through the looking glass into a new world'
walter anderson

'post modern simply says that the previous culture 'modernism' is at an end and something else is emerging to take its place'
mike riddell

'the greatest barrier to the gospel in contemporary western culture is the church'
mike riddell

'culture is a living thing which can only be developed from within. it can not be imposed from above'
pete ward

'the world looks suspiciously like a 20 channel satellite t.v. with a madman holding the remote control: before you have time to make sense of the story, the screen beams other images, to be replaced with yet other images, before you begin to know what they are images of; and all comes from nowhere and melts back into nowhere again'
zygmunt bauman

'remember at the start of the decade it being pronounced that these would be the caring nineties in direct reaction to the materialistic eighties? well, excuse us while we bathe in frothy irony and knock back our 'testosterone and black', but it hasn't happened yet'
miranda sawyer (the face)

'the postmodern refers above all to the exhaustion of the modern'
david lyon

'we emerge from our mother's womb an unformatted diskette: our culture formats us'
douglas coupland (polaroids from the dead)

'you're born; you live; you run around a bit; you die; so you might as well look foxy while you're doing it'
frontier clothes shop

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