“not dangerous, just pretentious”

– written on a placard at the ‘protest’ at the entrance to the ikon worship

as i said in the last post, one of the great things about being over in the uk is that the conversation about alt worship is in a very different place here. one doesn’t have to explain or justify alt worship. that leaves space for all sorts of other conversations.

the stuff that’s most persistently ringing through my head at the moment is how much does alt worship get compromised when it tries to be redemptive for the existing church. i’m not sure we can be both safe for those most on the edge of faith, and those within the church (i’m not sure i agree with that paragraph yet, but i want to stay with it a while).
it’s come through most clearly in conversation with a few people this week about the ikon worship at greenbelt. often the conversations this week have begun ‘it wasn’t worship because…’. pete explains some of the thinking behind the service on his website – if i could leave a comment on his site, i’d say that the worship wasn’t there for those who needed to understand that. what matters is that a handful of people would have recognised themselves and God in that time, like nowhere else at greenbelt (indeed, like nowhere else at all). for those people – who might describe themselves as people of faith or not – this was home. i don’t care whether we call that worship or sacred space or performance art or theodrama or whatever. i just care that it’s there. and one day i hope the church will stop discussing its veracity, or debating its authenticity, and simply let it be.

to be honest, i’m not sure that i agree with this whole post, but maybe what i’m trying to say is that when we try to do both – to create a space that’s both worship for the ‘churched’, and sacred and safe for those who have no faith – we inevitably end up selling out the least vocal party in the conversation… which is rarely the church.


  1. Love you blog Cheryl.
    I’m a little familiar with your struggle to provide an environment that is sacred/accessible for both saints & seekers. I try to always remember what I think is the most important question…’who are we trying to please with our worship?’ I think asking God what He wants out of our services is primary from the start. But from a people perspective, you are right. If you don’t speak up, you’re not important.

  2. Cheryl

    hey Linz,

    I think you’re right, and we’re probably both in similar places. I was thinking about the church as a whole, not individuals, if that makes sense. I need to think about this a lot more… but when i’m less jetlagged.

    I did catch up with Mark Berry, which was fab – we shared a few pints, a great spot at the Michael Franti concert, and i loved the sacred space led by his community on the Monday morning of Greenbelt. I really like what he’s doing.

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