WITH not FOR - Issue #94
Argyle UMC in Argyle, Texas, is a large church in a small town. It offers a mix of contemporary and traditional worship and music in three Sunday services. Congregational worship leaders have taken seriously the critique that church needs to be experiential, participatory, image driven, and connected.
Some congregations have struggled to accomplish this in contemporary worship and music, often resulting in worship that is done by leaders for the congregation rather than enabling the congregation to be active participants in worship.
In its contemporary service, the Argyle music leaders are always sensitive to what they can do to encourage the congregation. They choose music that is within the reach of worshipers rather than the current "top 10" favorites. They don't hesitate to raise or lower musical keys for congregational comfort. Instruments play as a supportive and unified group rather than as performing soloists. The service includes traditional, gospel, and global music along with contemporary music. Video, lighting, and projection are all used to encourage congregational participation.
The result of their efforts to increase congregational participation is reflected in the recent remarks of a member who said, "My goal is to sing as loudly as the band plays."
Argyle UMC also encourages music and singing outside of its worship services. They include singing in Sunday school classes, church council meetings, and always at youth and children's gatherings. They also take musical groups out into the community.
Some Questions for Discussion
- Looking at your church worship bulletin, how much singing and speaking is done by leaders and how much by the congregation?
- It has often been said that United Methodists sing our theology more than many other denominations. What can you do within and beyond the worship service to be more encouraging and supportive of congregational singing?
- How does music and worship with the congregation differ from music and worship for the congregation?