Why am I here? An interesting question with many different answers. I guess the real question is why is this blog here?
I have been involved in the church since I became a Christian in 1996. Throughout the years I have been to many different types of church and many different kinds of services. Though very ecumenically minded and with eclectic tastes I find myself strangely drawn to the Church of England where I have worshipped most of my adult life. As a guitarist who has played since my teens I have been involved in some of the musical aspects of worship in ‘traditional’ settings. As I have played in numerous other bands I have always found the traditional charismatic ‘worship groups’ to be a rather strange place to be and a bit constraining. If you turn up for a rehearsal with a Les Paul and a TSL100, people start asking questions and trying to stick you in a corner. Over dinner I have been known to fondly recount the time I was told by a sound engineer to “turn down” when the guitars volume was rolled completely off. I now find it amusing that the time the smell of electrical burning wafted throught the service, the resident fireman jumped onto the stage to sniff suspiciously at my amplifier – rather than the ancient and decrepit electric heaters around the room. I guess that is why I find this cartoon so amusing!
When I relocated to West Yorkshire several years ago, the church I joined asked my wife and I to be ‘involved in worship’. After negotiation this became an Alt. Worship service where the only real guiding principle was ‘what happens if you do this in church’? Leadership was disseminated to all who would be involved. People were encouraged to do what they are good at and to bring their own ideas. When someone said “I wonder if we could do this….” I can’t think of an occasion where the reply was “no”. The congregation was diverse and for some it was their only connection with “Church” because of various past experiences. I think the best experience was the trust that people were given was lived up to. The congregation were allowed to flourish as a group and use their gifts to worship in whatever way that was.
Time marched on and I started studying for a masters degree in theology and ministry Here I discovered that there is a huge theological background to this sort of service in the emerging church and alt. worship movements. Whilst our foray into the world of Alt. Worship was done by feeling our way around, others had been furtively writing books and stamping some authority on it. I guess this is why I have spent much of the time on my degree exploring the issues that are raised by Alt. Worship and the Emerging Church. The particular question I keep coming back to is how this relates to denomination as concrete as the Church of England – my spiritual home.
So how did I end up blogging about this? I was running the PA and playing guitar at a Methodist conference on ‘fresh expressions’ where I met Jonny Baker for the first time. Over dinner we discussed how the situation in the north of the UK felt isolated and that Alt. Worship/Emerging Churches were few and far between. Throughout our involvement in this part of church, we didn’t realise that there was anyone else out there. We discussed the idea of networking and using the internet as a way to connect with other likeminded people. Here is where we were and here we are now…