This morning’s post comes from our good friend Mark Pierson, who has been a worship curator for more than 15 years. Mark Pierson blogs athttp://www.clayfirecurator.org. He is author of the recent book The Art of Curating Worship.
It worries me that we don’t take corporate public worship seriously enough. I’m referring to those who plan and design it. Those of us who experience it are too often well aware that it hasn’t been treated seriously.
I am a worship curator – I design and plan corporate public worship events. If I assume that all I need to convey in those worship events is information – whether it be about God, Jesus, the Bible, or any other aspect of the Christian faith – I have failed to take my role seriously, and I have sold-short my congregation.
James K. A Smith, (Desiring the Kingdom) talking about Christian education, says, “What if (worship) is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires?” We have often assumed that worship is about communicating ideas and information, then been disappointed when our congregations don’t live more Christ-like lives, and wondered why people of faith act the same as people of no faith.
We have been getting what we deserve. Information doesn’t lead to transformation. It may be an aspect of engaging with God, but unless a person is affected at the level of heart and desires, transformation isn’t going to take place.
Smith again, (worship) “shapes us, forms us, molds us, to be a certain kind of people whose hearts and passions and desires are aimed at the kingdom of God.” Or it should.
Our corporate public worship events need to be seen more as art forms through which people engage with God, rather than information teaching processes that convey information about God.
This will look different in every worship event, and will be affected by the values, theology, sociology, denominational history, and spiritual landscape of a congregation. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to designing events that might enable people to engage with God, heart soul, mind and strength. That’s why we need to take our worship curating much more seriously. It’s not an easy task. It carries huge responsibilities. It takes training and education, feedback and accountability, and collaboration, and a pastoral awareness to be a good worship curator. It also takes time.
When we take worship more seriously then perhaps instead of describing ourselves as mere (and misnamed) “worship leaders” we will be able to say, “I am a worship curator: I curate practices in structured and ambient spaces that offer people the potential for liminal moments of individual and corporate formative and transformative engagement with the Trinitarian community of God. I am an artist whose medium is worship.”