360º Worship

The first trick I learned on a skateboard, after learning how to stay on it, was doing a “360.” Its a simple trick where a skater pops the front of the board up and spins around 360º without stopping.

Since my early skating days, I have learned about other kinds of 360ºs:

  • 360º Interview/review/feedback
  • 360º Preaching by Michael Quicke
  • 360º Panorama photography/video
  • 360º Leadership by John C Maxwell
  • 360º Virtual gaming
  • 360º Communication
  • 360º Planning

But, what if a church thought about having 360º worship gatherings?

For some churches there is a need, because of parking, location and community size restraints to add multiple gatherings. A friend’s church in town offers 5 worship services (2 Satuday night and 3 Sunday morning). Some churches creatively problem solve their restriction issues by adding more and more services, moving to or building a bigger location, having satellite or video venue campuses or planting a new churches.

I wonder if there is not an intermediate stage that might help maintain a churches unity, while conserving its resources, but still affectively handling some of the restrain issues.

What if a single-service-church planned to allow people to enter and leave at two different times instead of just one, without missing out on any part of the experience (worship, teaching community, etc). What if there were more flexibility built into a worship gathering that made engagement smoother. What if an order of service was planned like this:

Call to Worship (reading or music)
Welcome/Passing of the Peace
Song #1a
Song #1b
Community prayer/Call and response
Song #1c
Scripture Reading
Teaching
Song #2a
Song #2b
Recitation of Creed/Lord’s Prayer
Song #2c
Blessing/Benediction

(Other possible elements seem endless: Personal/Corporate Confession, Communion, Baptism, Personal Narrative/Testimony, Church values, etc.)

The point of this model is that people can enter at the Call to Worship and leave after the Teaching or enter at the Teaching and leave after the Blessing. Either way they will experience a well rounded and full opportunity to worship. It also offers those who are looking for more corporate worship time to engage with the entirety of the gathering without it repeating.  This kind of flexible format takes into account that some people like time before corporate worship to prepare to hear from God and it allows others who like time to reflect on what they have heard from God to do so. In short it, it is like a book offerings a Prelude and an Epilogue.

Yes, there are some concessions that are made with this kind of model:

  • Teaching/Preaching is clearly the hinge.
  • The whole gathering could take 1.5 to 3 hours and may require more work by some people.
  • There will be people moving in and out at difference times and it might be noisy and distracting.
  • Some elements may need to be offered as consistent, ongoing opportunities for engagement (giving/offering happens at a specific location, not a specific time and communion is available throughout the gathering on a “self serve” basis).

Even if these and other concession are accurate , I still think 360º Worship is still a viable and healthy model for church gatherings. I think this so convincingly that it can be employed as a tool even though a church is not dealing with any of the restraint or restriction issues mentioned above. It could be use soley for the spiritually formative benefits it offers.

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