Getting Things Moving

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An article I wrote for Worship Leader is online. Its called “Getting Things Moving” and its about movement in worship.

I suggest the following ways to get things moving at your church;

– Pray with your bodies

– Install an interactive worship station

– Create a multi-media labyrinth

– Set up a 24/7 prayer room

– Prayer-walk your city

– Go on pilgrimage

There was a question from one person over my use of the word “labyrinth” and its relationship to new age/mysticism. If anyone is interested, I would be happy to answer questions about the article right here. Otherwise read, enjoy, and subscribe to the world’s leading worship magazine.

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Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)


  • Andrew,
    I fear if we tried most of these suggestion at my church, the only thing ‘moving’ would be pencils on comment cards.

  • Marc, that’s hysterical, but so true.
    Regarding praying with your body . . . the Orthodox Jews do this while in prayer. At the Western Wall in Jerusalem I often watched them pray while swaying their bodies or bobbing their heads up and down.
    In the proper context, this can be a helpful way of praying with “rhythm.” And wow, that sounds like something Spencer Burke would say. Provided that the focus is on God, some kind of rhythmic (spelling?) movement can help fidgity people such as myself pray.

  • marc could try an alternative worship serivce using pencils and comment cards.
    why not spread them out on the floor, on walls and down the hallway – have people writing spiritual and poetic comments on a labyrinth made of cards?
    take a picture and let me know.

  • I am seriously appalled that you are telling people to set up an interactive worship station and how to move their bodies during their time that is to be spent giving glory to God and recognizing Him for who He is (“worship”).
    Dude, I’m not trying to bust on you – I am trying to warn you. I’m worried about what seems to be happening here.
    John 9:39-41: “Jesus said, ‘I came to this world to judge, so that the blind should see and those who see should become blind.’ Some Pharisees who were there with him heard him say this and asked him, ‘Surely you don’t mean that we are blind too?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you were blind, then you would not be guilty; but since you claim that you can see, this means that you are still guilty.’ ”
    It’s a hardcore thing to begin thinking that we know so much that we tell people how to posture themselves and interact with God through media, etc. True worship before God is a broken and contrite heart. How do we come to Him with a broken and contrite heart? Who can say? But what is being taught here is going to lead people into more bondage – not the freedom to come and just BE in Jesus’ presence. In His presence is life. The emphasis is not on HOW we come and get into His presence, but on HIM and how He comes to us and leads us into Himself as He knows through His love and intimacy.

  • not telling them HOW to move ( i would never presume to know – we all have our own languages of expression), but telling churches to be equipped for movement – there is a difference
    i have been to some churches where people were DANGEROUSLY swinging flags and banners, barely missing my head
    and other churches that make physical space for those who want to respond to God in dancing or movement – even if it preparing some dedicated space in the back with nothing to trip over.
    people WILL move – gosh – you should see my children get up and dance when the worship begins – and we do not even encourage it (i dont like to dance and at conservative churches i get quite embarrassed . . but then i think about what Jesus said regarding stopping the little ones from expressing themselves . . and i let them worship God in their own way.
    How about you?

  • I think you’ve missed what I was pointing to. I am pointing out the fact that it seems to be that there is a whole movement on to help people learn “how to” worship & be community & be up with the latest media arts & be culturally relevant. But that’s missing the mark.
    If we spent as much time seeking God, listening to His voice, cultivating our friendships with Him, loving each other, loving strangers, & loving our enemies, then the need to write endless books and blog articles on things like “where will the church be in 20 years” or “how do we reach our generation by being relevant” or “how to engage in worship” will decrease. Because each one of us would have to know HIm for ourselves instead of relying on a secondhand revelation or how-to course on knowing Him and worshipping Him.
    The Pharasees did the same thing that the established & emerging church is doing now. The danger is in thinking we know the way in the simplist of things – in doing this we could assume we are hearing from God and totally take away the pleasure and vital neccesity for each person to know and hear God for themselves… which is what Jesus desires.

  • This is very encouraging, thanks.
    Here soon we are taking baby steps towards 24/7 prayer by doing one to 4 24 hour sessions of prayer a month. I also have been prayer walking the place I work and hope to start in my neighborhood.
    Can’t wait to read it, take it easy.

  • shannon,
    i dont think you understand the problem with the pharisees. and I dont think you understand what andrew is saying.
    andrew is giving avenues or disciplines to be able to worship. just as singing, bible study, etc. are disicplines that allow us to worship.
    To say that there is nothing physical about our worship is to present a false dualism. Andrew is merely suggesting a more holistic worship.Similar to what Jesus experienced as a Jew and as the early Christians experienced in the Eucharist.

  • I disagree with you Daniel. I believe the Pharisees piled rules on people and told them it’s what they had to do to get to God, but that wasn’t (and isn’t) what was necessary to get to God. I think what Andrew is suggesting isn’t more holistic worship, but another brick added to the “way to do church” building that is now a movement that has to feed itself in order to survive – which, like all other denominations (or non-denominations) becomes what it set out to be free from – a controling machine that binds people up.
    I find it interesting that I have been asked a question (by Andrew) and told that I may not understand Pharisees or Andrew, but no one has answered any specifics that I have put forth.
    Was I wrong when I said:
    “If we spent as much time seeking God, listening to His voice, cultivating our friendships with Him, loving each other, loving strangers, & loving our enemies, then the need to write endless books and blog articles on things like “where will the church be in 20 years” or “how do we reach our generation by being relevant” or “how to engage in worship” will decrease. Because each one of us would have to know HIm for ourselves instead of relying on a secondhand revelation or how-to course on knowing Him and worshipping Him.”? Was I wrong in saying that?
    I’m not being sarcastic or ugly in my heart here. My heart is to see people free and to follow Jesus, just like I believe yours is.
    Was I wrong in what I said up above? Sometimes I think people must not address things like this because if they did they’d have to stop and take a look at all that they’ve poured themselves into.
    I just want people to know Jesus. I just want us to stop trying to mold God into what we know. I just want us to be brave enough to walk away from our fishing boats (like Simon Peter) and our tax collecting tables (like Matthew) and follow Him, whether we know what the heck we’re doing or not. Then, it seems that we’d have to rely on God and not gimmicks. And I fear that is what a lot of these ideas are. Gimmicks. And what must God think of us having to sell His truth? It can stand on His own. He can stand on His own.
    Thanks for your thoughts on it. At least you’ve responded to my 2nd post. I appreciate it.

  • Shannon – isn’t this just worshipping God with all our being? heart, body, soul, sight, touch, hearing, smell… not just our brains?

  • It could be called a gimmick. BUT it is also worshippers using their God given creative minds to creatively worship Him in ways that consume their all. From experience, sometimes its incredible. Sometimes not so much… whether that was because of my heart or method… In the traditional worship service or my previous church, I have to depend entirely on my heart and I have to choose to worship. Its always a choice, but How awesome to create the “ideal” worship atmosphere for more than just me… I’m rambling, its too late. Don’t know if that helps or not.
    And I agree with the “if we spent as much time seeking God…” quote to some extent. if we all were, yes. BUT we are the imperfect church, and because of that, God has given each of us gifts, and ministries, and this is an incredible ministry to many, if not you 🙂

  • shannon
    my comment last night did not appear. if this comes out twice, forgive me.
    like you, i cant stand it when someone up the front tells me what to do (clap your hands, raise your hands, etc) because each of us responds in our own language to God.
    but sometimes i just go with it for the sake of the gospel.
    like a few months ago, i was at a missions oriented worship meeting in South Africa and the leader taught us a dance and then made us all stand and dance in front of them – you would have been LIVID and more than appalled, i am sure.
    Kester Brewin’s book makes a claim that one of the main characteristics of the emerging church is gift giving – that people are coming to church to give their gift (not receive a gift) and therefore a safe place for that gift to be given must be created and maintained.
    if that gift involves some kind of movement, we should allow it.
    a friend of mine was shipwrecked while sailing. she was pregnant at the time and had a infant. It took her ten years to get over it. Her pastor, knowing she was a dancer, allowed her to start dancing in church – at the back of the church so that she would not disturb anyone. Week by week she danced, not because it was cool or hip, but because it was her language and her way of speaking to God with her body.
    She is fine now and was able to rejoin the missions field after a ten year spell. Her husband, who returned to banking for ten years while his wife went through her healing process, was also delighted to get back into missions.
    so when people at church want to stand at the back and move, i may not know the reasons, but i usually cut them some slack.
    nothing to do with being relevant or hip – just people giving their gift to God and taking delight in God receiving it.

  • I’m sorry for the late comment but I’ve only recently come across your blog.
    I’m interested in your justification / reasoning behind the use of the “labyrinth”. Clearly an activity with a strong pagan heritage and, IMHO, a questionable focus on “us” rather than Him (the one true Holy God). How do you square that?
    Thanks in advance.
    Peace to you.

  • hi william,
    a labyrinth is a path, a line on the ground, a series of things to do all linked together. it could even be a blog post with a series of links that invite you to follow the path.
    for a good example of the kind of experience i am talking about. take a look at the Feast of Tabernacles and see what worshippers did at each gate or pool.

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