One of the subscribers to our center recently asked what people are writing and saying about the future of worship. She wanted to know what it would look like. Would churches still be using projectors? Will the form be changing? I did some research and asked her question in some of my Facebook groups, then put together some ideas for her. I present here a shortened version of my findings.
- Technology, such as screens, will be utilized but will be mixed with traditional spiritual practices and the celebration of sacraments. There will be more use of visual elements. Worship style will draw from the early church, Reformation, evangelical, and contemporary traditions. There will be more use of ritual, mystery, icons, and symbols, and more spaces for quiet and contemplation. The need for historical rootedness will lead to an appreciation of beautiful buildings, stained glass windows, etc.
- There will be an expectation that worship will be high quality, authentic, and avoid dead ritualism, such as recitation of creeds, call and response, or other prayers which some people may not be able to agree with in their entirety.
- Worship music will be a combination of new and old, and will need to have meaningful theological content. There will be a change from choirs or contemporary musicians putting on a performance to church musicians’ role being to lead the congregation in singing. There will be a variety of music styles and musical instruments; there will be more use of string and wind instruments.
- Children and youth will be welcomed in worship and the service will change to accommodate them. Intergenerational worship will understand that people of every age are equally important and therefore worship will become more interactive and will appeal to a variety of learning styles.
- The practice of one person (usually the pastor) leading and dominating the service will transition to a sharing of leadership between clergy and laity and greater participation by the congregation.
- Worship will become more expressive and spiritual rather than cognitive. For instance, rather than have someone read scripture, the passage may be acted out, read by several people, or shown in video form. Rather than have the pastor or another leader pray aloud, there will be silent prayer and spiritual meditation.
- Sermons or the bringing of the message will no longer be one person (usually the pastor) just talking and the congregation just listening. The traditional sermon will be replaced by various alternatives such as multimedia messages, several short talks by different people interspersed with music, personal testimony, a story told by a storyteller, a skit or dialogue, small group discussions, etc.
- There will be more opportunities for people to attend online church, participate in sacraments through the internet, and even attend church through virtual reality.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these points? How do you think worship will be in the future?