Sigh. It’s time for yet another president’s column. You’re thinking, “Is she really going to say anything noteworthy this time?” I’m thinking, “Didn’t I just write one of these? What can I possibly think of to fill the space? I guess I’d better just churn out something and get this checked off my to-do list.”
Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration (at least, on my part!). But don’t we all experience that feeling of “not again?” when faced with a routine task – no matter how important that task may be? Take worship planning and preparation, for example. Sunday just keeps coming! Every. Single. Week. We just went through this last week; how can we come up with words and music and movements and rituals and images that are new and fresh once again? The temptation to just dial it in gets pretty strong at times.
And yet, I can think of at least a couple of reasons that we worship artists can still muster up excitement week in and week out. As Easter People, we are entrusted with the most amazing, un-boring, complacency-fighting narrative in all the universe! There is absolutely nothing status quo about the story of God’s incarnational love living here in our midst even today. The Gospel alone is motivation enough to bust out of our ho-hum task-oriented liturgical ruts and bring our best creative energy to the awesome privilege of designing and leading worship.
But I also understand that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under-resourced in this calling. And that’s where The Fellowship can help in battling the monotony of the mundane. Our new website (but same address: UMFellowship.org) has a terrific collection of resources that will be growing significantly over the next months. Our annual Music & Worship Arts Week is just around the corner; if you don’t feel fired up after a week at Lake Junaluska with a few hundred creative worship fans then you must have been asleep in your room the whole time! Awaken 2017 is July 24-27 in Little Rock; it will absolutely wake you up to new ways to plan worship and new ways to fight complacency.
But our members themselves are the very best tool for breaking out of whatever rut may have you trapped. If you’re part of a chapter, call your leaders for ideas about connecting with others in your chapter for support. Regardless of where you are, take the initiative to invite a colleague out to share a beverage and “talk shop” together (see how you can make this effort part of our 60+ONE project). Call the national office to ask about getting more involved in The Fellowship. Or email me (FellowshipLaura@gmail.com) for ideas about connecting with the wonderfully creative worship artists who make up The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. When we pool our creativity and liturgical gifts, it’s the best antidote imaginable for complacency!
-- BeTheFellowship, Laura Jaquith Bartlett
(NOTE: This article first appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of WorshipArts.)