I wrote the start of this over a year ago, describing what we are trying in Alive@5, and just found the following incomplete post from over a year ago, but I thought I'd post it anyway...
the first post is here.
read it first or nothing will make sense. and now to say some more about Alive@5...
the key elements have been
1. music - lively, participatory (percussion instruments), Christian but not too 'praisey' (i.e. i love you Lord..... etc)
2. giving thanks. the MSM material talks about 'praise' but we havent used that word. we do a simple 'thank you' prayer each time. we've used images, a song, a simple responsive text projected, a tactile activity, a story.
3. scripture as story. we've worked out our themes month to month. Easter. Friendship. Forgiveness/Saying Sorry. Welcome/Hospitality. Good Samaritan. Sower & Seed (Seeds of Goodness and Hope). we played with 'Christian practices' for 3 months but gave up. we'll probably come back to it. we have been trying to focus on Gospel texts. ie. Jesus. wanting people to get to know about him, wanting them to experience his stories and his teachings, seeing narrative as a central medium for communication and experience of faith. We used the text about Abram and Sarai and the visitors/angels for the 'Hospitality' session, which was fine. But with both the Old Testament and Gospel narratives, so much of it is weird from a contemporary perspective. I could write a LOT more about this, but its a central challenge for us - using the Bible in a 'missional' worship setting.
anyway, some key things for us are
- dramatising the story - acting it out, using puppets, getting everying involved (we have lots of puppets). we've made these things up ourselves month by month.
- using video & animation - partly as a cultural medium, but also we've carefully chosen to use some Gospel re-enactment videos - so people 'see' Jesus as a person from a particular time and place. i could say a lot more about this. last month was Jon Birch's "Sower" animation from Proost.
there is always a theme intro of some kind early on, and some comment or questions about the story. we've wrestled with focusing on the narrative rather than stating a 'theme' which then becomes a 'message'. it's been fairly brief in order to keep things moving. we have yet to explore the place of more silent, reflective space in the gathering.
I have been reflecting since Wednesday's session that we don't show or open or read from an actual Bible in this time. I wonder if we should, in some way...
4. activities - no sermon. 2 or more participatory activities each time. i think this is really key to the whole gathering, and certainly the kids and adults see it that way. we're still working out what we're doing here, but it's not just 'alternative' worship, and we're trying to make it not 'like Sunday School'.
we have allowed 25-30 mins for this and usually left people free to move between activities, although one week (hospitality) we orchestrated the whole thing, and each week there is usually at least one activity that needs as discrete group for a discrete time. we're trying to make the activities all-age but often finding parents.
we're trying to avoid mindless craft, although its surprisingly easy to go down that slippery slope towards bad Sunday School...
- we've done electronic stuff (making video, recording a song). I REALLY want to keep this in the mix every second month so that we're using the stuff of culture to make things
- creative expression - trying to make an inviting space for people to be respond to the story/text - this is always the hardest
- drama / games - a very active / kinsethetic learning experience. i've had to make up a couple so far. without being gender-biased here, i do ask myself 'what about the boys'?
- craft - the issue here has been to give a creative/expressive opportunity and to allow it to have a wider meaning - so last month (Sower & Seed) they could make a tissue paper flower to give to somone along with a blessing, thereby 'sowing seeds of love and goodness'
- prayer. we have not been alt-worshippy. maybe we could have been... but last month with the Sower & the Seed I put a live tree in the church sanctuary and people could make a piece of fruit from coloured card, write or draw on it someone from whom they hoped that seeds of love and goodness might grow, and tie it to the tree. lots of people participated. so I'm pretty committed to having a space like this each time.
then we gather back together
So that's what was happening a year ago. Now I'll have to write an update.