Yes, Worship Matters!


knox_irises_2013_emailWorship services have special meaning for every individual who takes a seat in our sanctuary. This fact alone poses an interesting challenge when we think about how we see our church in the near and distant future. Not surprisingly, “Make changes in the way we do worship” is one of the top five projects as selected by you, our members. If you were present at our “Hats Off to the Future” session, you will remember that this topic sparked a lot of dialogue. Music was a focal point that had us thinking about “possibilities”. Do we imagine a guitar and several other instruments leading us in more contemporary style hymns or songs? Do we imagine changing the way we use music throughout the service? Do we dream of having members of every age group frequently involved in the music we favour? Whatever we imagine, I think we can agree that one goal in changing how we worship is to attract and retain a broader cross-section of our congregation.  Take a few minutes to watch to this interview with our Music Director, Alison Kranias; it may help you crystalize your thoughts.  Another short video synthesizes some of the discussion we had at “Hats Off to the Future”.  While we might not entirely agree with Baptist perspective, I think you will recognize some of the concerns we are facing as they are described in this clip.

Another theme that surfaced during our brainstorming was making our worship services more relevant to today’s world. If we would like to see more of our community crossing the threshold and participating with us, we need to become more sensitive to our local cultural environment.  The educational arm of the United Church , Edge Ministry, held a conference in Saskatoon in June called, “Worship Matters 2013”.   One of the  keynote speakers, Jonny Baker, well-known for his work with alternate worship  in the United Kingdom, provided attendees with a rainbow of ideas on how to make worship services deeper and more meaningful (see details under “Source” below). Here is an article by Jonny Baker that might give you ideas about alternate worship and why it has been chosen by some congregations.  While the slides from his presentation at the Saskatoon conference are not available, you can browse through his notes by clicking here .  You might also enjoy considering some of his innovative ideas at his blog 

If you need more food for thought, take a look at this short item called, Worship and Spirituality from the United Church website.  I found the list of action items on the last page particularly enlightening.

Using technology in new ways to enhance participation in our services was much discussed by the younger members of our congregation during the visioning sessions.  Look for my post that will explore this idea in more depth in the coming weeks. Communion is also a very powerful part of our worship; that will be the topic for the third week.

As a starting point, I would like you to imagine what your ideal worship service would look like and describe it for us. Maybe you have visited other churches and seen elements that touched you; share them with us.   Perhaps you have read about innovative services, possibly in The Observer; let us know why those particular ideas grabbed your attention. We need to hear from you!



The United Church of Canada. (2013) “Worship Matters2013, The Cutting Edge, Where Preaching, Music, and Liturgy Collide”. Retrieved on October 15, 2013 from

The United Church of Canada. (2013) Worship by Theme.  Retrieved on October 23, 2013 from

10 thoughts on “Yes, Worship Matters!

    1. Hi Heather,

      Thank you for your comment. I am working on the next post and hope we get lots of feedback from our friends at Knox.


  1. Thanks for including so many links in your blog post, Jane. It is great to get ideas from what other people are doing.
    I think we could do some praise music with the young people after Christmas, and teach the congregation one or two songs. Does anyone know any good praise songs we could learn?


    1. Hi Alison,

      I appreciate your feedback! This is my first blog experience, so it’s very helpful to know what readers find helpful.

      It would be wonderful if we could try a few of the praise numbers that were used at Camp Awesome in the summer. A number of our Sunday School members were there and would definitely remember the songs once we started practising. Rev. Hiliary Merritt may be able to give us some assistance in this area. We’ll also look forward to hearing from other members of the congregation. I’m sure they will have ideas for us. 🙂

      Jane 🙂


  2. I am impressed, not only with the variety of music we are enjoying, but the increasing number of people in our congregation who are participating in the service. Of course there is always the choir, small as it is, but we are involving guitar, clarinet, children singing. playing piano and tone chimes, youth, soloists. As well, we are having both adults and children as ushers and scripture readers. The children who take part in their time during the service with Andrew, appear to have a wonderful comfort level being there. They really feel that this is their place. These opportunties provide us all with an increasing sense of ownership in the church and this is healthy. Thank you. Betty


    1. Hi Betty,
      Thank you very much for joining the conversation about worship. It is gratifying to read that you find the changes being made to the music in our service are positive. 🙂 Is there any particular element that you feel would enhance future services if we included it more often? Just as an example, I would mention the tone chimes group. Personally, I felt a surge of happiness to see the cross-section of young people who were involved and how focused they were on creating the music. Also, do you think there might be other ways for both children and adults to take part in worship services? Have you experienced activity at other churches that would be worth experiementation? I like your idea of “an increasing sense ownership in the church”. It is possible that the more we can foster this sense, the more members will take an active role.

      We look forward to your thoughts.
      Jane 🙂


      1. Jane – I don’t have other suggestions but if we continue encouraging involvement I think other small successes will happen. I congratulate Alison for her creativity in the music program – some ideas and choices work well and others not as much but some just shine!! I bet there are not very many churches have 12 year olds playing the piano in the service, or teenagers doing solos, or even have a young people’s Christmas pageant any more. The more the better – this is the future of the church. I’ve appreciated the opportunity of having this conversation with you and I hope others will participate. Betty


      2. Hi Betty,

        I think you are so right. We are lucky to have Alison with us, encouraging us to think in different directions and engaging our young people! Like you, I hope others will jump in with ideas that will help us enhance the ways we worship. It would be great to hear from some of our teen members and parents of younger children.:-)

        Thanks Betty, for your enthusiasm and this postive feedback!


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