At the heart of our experience together is the practice of listening spirituality. In addition to engaging with songs, prayer and Scripture, we also participate in what we call “waiting worship” or “open worship.” What does this look like?
During the time of open worship in our small groups, we sit together in expectant silence, usually for about 20 minutes (though it could be longer or shorter, depending on how we feel led by God). We focus our attention on God, opening ourselves up to the Spirit’s working in our hearts, praying that Christ will speak to us as individuals, and to the group as a whole. Sometimes, no one says anything. But often there are several messages that God gives us to speak or sing out loud. Whether or not there is vocal ministry, we are usually comforted by a palpable sense of Christ’s presence.
When you join us for worship, you, too, may be called on by God to share with the group. Speaking in meeting for worship requires sensitivity and discernment, so wait until you feel that God has given you a message for the whole group. Often, God will give an individual a message that is just for them, so a part of Friends worship is learning to discern when a message is just for the individual and when it should be shared with the entire group. As much as possible, try to set aside personal thoughts, ideas, and reflections; you can return to them after worship has ended.
Above all, don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Most, if not all of us, have spoken (or not spoken) when we should have done otherwise. It is not the end of the world; just an occasion to learn greater sensitivity and discernment. The idea is to be open to the moving of God’s Spirit – equally willing to speak or to be silent.
You will know that worship is ending when we begin to shake hands. After that, we generally take time to pray together. Folks usually hang around for a while afterwards to catch up.
What happens at your gatherings?
In addition to the time of prayer we share in our small groups, we also hold larger gatherings where we come together from across the city to experience deep community and the power of the Spirit’s presence.
Our worship events are collaborative and experimental. We incorporate music, artistic expressions, Scripture and silence in ways that we hope will aid us in experiencing God and following Jesus.