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Alive Together in Worship

July 10, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN

Our annual conference theme, “Alive Together in Christ,” prepared us well for the theme that will guide us over the next 12 months, “Alive Together in Worship.” One of the primary ways of being alive together in Christ is through the experience of meaningful worship. These words from Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “Strong Son of God, Immortal Love,” always remind me of the reason worship is so important. Tennyson writes:

Our little systems have their day; 
They have their day and cease to be: 
They are but broken lights of thee, 
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

Worship connects us with the God who is greater than all of our plans and systems, greater than our problems and sorrows, greater than our arguments and divisions. Our goal of a 10 percent increase in average worship attendance is not driven by a fixation on numbers. Rather, this goal expresses our desire that growing numbers of people come to know the God who is “more than” all we face in life.

This is the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ and who lives among us through the power of the Holy Spirit. But people of all ages need worship opportunities where they can experience for themselves the God who is greater than all human schemes.

As a child I was deeply affected by the strong sounds of the pipe organ at Bainbridge First UMC. The deep tones told me that there is something so solid in life that nothing in the world can shake it. As a teenager I experienced Jesus’ presence outdoors during an evening service at youth camp and I consciously asked Christ to come into my heart. As a college student I experienced God’s presence in worship services designed and led by students at the campus Wesley Foundation.

From cathedrals to camp meetings, true worship connects us to the greatness of God. We need that more than ever today. We are experts at information but what our world needs is transformation. Worship transforms us. We will eventually become what we worship. Let us focus our attention on being Alive Together in Worship.

Have you begun using the Vital Signs handout that was distributed at annual conference? That resource is full of practical steps for increasing worship attendance. For your convenience, click here to access the Vital Signs handout and additional resources.

Please let your district superintendent know your congregation’s 10 services of highest worship attendance during the past 12 months. Which of those services is coming next? What made it such a high attendance service last year? What are your dreams for that worship service this year? Who else needs to be involved in preparing for that service?

Alive Together in Worship,

Lawson Bryan

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