(This week I am blogging on the Whole Life Worship Paradigm and breaking it down to its essential components)
The third movement in a symphony is usually a dance (minuet, waltz, scherzo, trio). In the Whole Life Worship paradigm, the third movement is also a “dance” – it is where we leverage the power of small community into the act of offering ourselves to God for transformation together. It is here where we bring the themes and motifs of our previous movements of Personal Worship and Everyday Ordinary into the safe company of like-minded Whole Life Worshipers, where we can encourage, pray and strengthen each other in our common journey of worship. I call this movement, “Spiritual Friendship.” It can be a partner or a small group (Jesus used the phrase “two or more gathered in my name”). It is a “friendship” in that it needs to be a safe place of honesty, openness and trust. It is “spiritual” in the intention of meeting is to move forward in the spiritual integration of worship into our daily lives.
We live in an exciting day and age where partnership and small communities are common in most churches. There are small groups, care groups, Bible study groups, discipleship groups, recovery groups, and fellowship groups. There are prayer partners, accountability partners, mentoring partners and coaching partnerships. Whole Life Worship spiritual friendships operate in the same way: it is where two or more (usually not more than 8-10) people gather together on a regular basis to share Whole Life Worship experiences and pray for each other.
Any small group or partnership can become a Whole Life Worship Spiritual Friendship. Only two things are needed. The first is a basic understanding of the Whole Life Worship paradigm. Members need to understand that Biblical worship is the offering of ourselves to God in response to His mercies, and that one of the main outcomes of worship is transformation (Romans 12:1-2). As well as there needs to be an understanding of how to approach devotionals/quiet time as Personal Worship with God (see blog entry on 2/12/13) and how to view life through the Worship in the Everyday Ordinary (see blog entry on 2/13/13). The second needed component is a sufficient amount of time to interact with each other about their Whole Life Worship experiences and to pray for one another. It is important to keep the sharing of Whole Life Worship experiences as the priority activity of the group. It is through the discussion of how God is at work in our personal lives that brings greater encouragement and inspiration to the group’s collective worship.
I have spiritual friendships with two men who are very committed to Whole Life Worship. I meet with them every other week (so I have a Spiritual Friendship meeting every week). We spend most of the time sharing about our lives; how we see God working, what we’ve been experiencing in Personal Worship, insights into the Everyday Ordinary, things that we’ve been wrestling with, frustrations and struggles, joys and victories, family, work, ministry – just about anything that has to do with Jesus and us. And then we pray for each other, asking for God to empower us and to reveal His greatness to us as we seek to live for Him. I have to say that these spiritual friendships have been one of the main catalysts for experiencing God’s transformation of my life and character over the years.
Several years back, my spiritual friendships were my “house church” (I was a church planter of house churches from 1998-2006). We intentionally made our house church a Whole Life Worship Community. During our gatherings, we listened and looked for God’s “fingerprints and handprints” in each others’ lives as our members share their Whole Life Worship experiences together. It is amazing how what was shared encouraged the group members to new ways of seeing God at work in their everyday life. There were also countless times when the group could see God at work in places where the “sharer” could not. Every time it gave us more reason to praise and worship God for the myriad of ways we saw the Divine work in, through, and around our lives.
Whole Life Spiritual Friendship is a powerful dance that utilizes the experiences and prayers of “two or more” for greater worship of God and transformational growth. It takes Whole Life Worship out of the realm of the private and into the realm of the community where the presence of Christ is manifested more fully. For as we dance this Whole Life Movement together, the reverberations extend far beyond us and into our world.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand. And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love (“They’ll Know We Are Christians” – Peter Scholtes)