which alternatives?

a few of us had dinner with Jenny McIntosh and Jane Braun last night, both visiting from NZ. it was such a good conversation – a relief to hear an echo of the story of this project through the stories Jenny and Jane were telling, and to be able to imagine and dream in their company. we’re going to investigate how we can work a little more closely.

one of the things we talked about was the problem with using the word ‘alternative’ in the worship / community life. What exactly is alternative worship an alternative to…
i’ve been thinking about this more today, as i begin to shape an alt worship workshop, for people who are beginning down the path. This feels like bread and butter stuff, but i’ve not articulated it before… this is where i’ve got to at this point, and bear in mind it’s written quite roughly. i’d love to hear what you think.

Which alternatives?
There is no one way to ‘do’ alternative worship, or one form of alternative worship. There is no one group who hold the rights to needing an alternative to worship…
Begin by identifying the alternative you’re looking for

– theology?
– environment?
– leadership?
– style?
– location?
– demographic?
– intention?

It’s most unlikely that it will be just one of those that you are looking for, and in the end they will all be impacted. But it’s important to recognise which one or two of these are your imperative, and let the others be defined by that.

Why does this matter? Firstly, it helps you to sift through the plethora of resources that are available, and to identify more quickly which are appropriate for this time. Secondly, it means that your worship will be less of a mish mash of all good ideas. Thirdly, it helps you to be able to guide others as to whether the worship you are curating will be worship that they need at this point in time.

For example, are you aiming the worship at people in the church who are looking for added depth to the worship they are currently part of, or at others outside the church? If you’re aiming at people outside the church, have they been before and left disenfranchised because the theology on offer was in a very different place to the direction their spirituality was taking, or are they people who have never been to church, who want to begin with the basics of faith?

My involvement in alt worship began in response to a yearning for an alternative theology and style, (they relate very closely to each other). I am also now involved in curating worship with a group of women who have never been to church before. Their starting point is demographic (they want a safe space for women to explore faith and spirituality) and environment (they won’t walk into a church, they want what we do to be in a public space, because that is a safer environment).

Both are alt worship, but they take a very different style..

tell me what you think…


  1. Cheryl

    yes, but if it’s worship just with women the candles are all purple…

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