This weekend I received an email with a call to prayer for one of the churches in Classis Atlantic Northeast. It was not because there was a tragedy in the community or any other urgent need. It was sent by the classis renewal team and simply highlighted some items of prayer for this specific congregation in their region. This simple act invited people from all over the classis (and me!) to see themselves as an extended worshipping community that is larger than any one of their own congregations.
Many classes are seeing intentional worship as a key element to classis renewal. In some cases, this happens by finding ways for the community to come together in worship in creative and fresh ways such as the case above. In others, it is taking advantage of the opportunity that already exists by embedding worship more deeply in the meeting itself. A few examples: classes like Heartland are adding more intentional times of worship into the classis meeting; Minnkota’s last meeting started with churches sharing an item they give thanks to God for and something they cry out to God for; Lake Superior regularly invites someone to share the Word with the delegates during their Monday evening session (and invited Joyce Borger of Worship Ministries to lead their pre-classis workshop not long ago); and more. These examples are simply a small sampling of the ways communal worship is being embedded in the life of classes, and each offers a chance to ensure the classis remains centred as a spiritually discerning community.
Additionally, at a gathering of classis leaders a little over a year ago, there was a discussion about the agenda itself. What if it were seen less as an outline for a business meeting and instead as a liturgy as though the meeting itself were a time of worship? How could the meeting create space for: a call to worship; time to reflect and confess; assurance of God’s grace; listening for the Word of God speaking to us and our situations today; inviting us to share the provisions God has given us to steward; and sending us out with God’s blessing into our own contexts for ministry? When the classis meeting is seen liturgically (again, something at least one classis is exploring), it is a way to not simply add a time of worship (as good as that is) but to reframe our work itself as a worship experience.
In a variety of ways, many classes are living into their identity as worshipping communities in how they share life together, how they create space for learning, and how they frame their meetings themselves through the lens of worship.