Of all the unconventional aspects of The Gathering, our use of music during worship may be the most unique. After we begin the service we feature some music to open our hearts and minds and to help us get into a worship mindset. But unlike most church services there is no standing, no singing, and no live musical performance. We remain seated, drink a cup of coffee, and take in a video of a performance that we find particularly meaningful or impactful. What in the world are we doing?
Like so many choices, this approach to music in worship was born out of necessity. Our worship leaders from the Sunday evening service were not available on Sunday mornings due to other commitments. Additionally, the room we started in wasn’t well-suited to congregational singing. Instead of trying to retrofit a previous service into this new format, we started from scratch, focusing on what we did have at our disposal.
What we did have, and continue to have, is wonderful audio/visual equipment, a limitless collection of new and undiscovered musical resources (thanks, Internet!), and a particularly resourceful church member who loves nothing more than taking a theme and finding a perfect song to match it (thanks, John!). So, with a spirit of adventure and a willingness to try new things, we started a “contemporary” worship service with no live music — just to see how thoroughly we could break the mold.
We still use videos to guide our worship one year later. This will change someday; after all, I do have a job opening for a worship leader listed on the church website. But in the meantime, we will continue to search deeply for music that stirs the soul and moves the heart — music that you want to listen to outside of church, not just during the service. Our unique approach to music in worship is evidence of a can-do attitude and a willingness to think outside the box. That’s part of what The Gathering is and who The Gathering challenges you to be.