Innovation can help worship, pastor says
March 29 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Innovation can help worship, pastor says | Friday, March 30, 2001

Friday, March 30, 2001

Innovation can help worship, pastor says

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor CHARLOTTE - Traditional churches should not fear using innovative methods in worship, a N.C. Baptist pastor said. But Michael Tutterow, pastor of Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, told about a dozen people attending a breakout workshop during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina meeting March 17 that the changes must have a purpose.

"Introducing change to a traditional service just to be different would be a sure way to alienate people," he said.

In an interview after the seminar, Tutterow said music styles probably should not be blended in a worship service. During the workshop, he talked about several other ways to work innovative styles into traditional services.

Tutterow said his church presented a proposal and an eight-week course on contemporary worship before it started such a service.

During that process, 25 people from his church each interviewed three to four unchurched people. The group found only one person who didn't go to church because they didn't believe in God, he said.

Tutterow said the need to reach people who do not go to church was illustrated by a question asked by a man who has been going to his church for a few months. The man wanted to know if Jesus was in the Old Testament or New Testament.

The answer to the question is obvious for most churchgoers but shows the type of biblical illiteracy among people who were not raised in churches.

"We can lament that or we can say we'll change so somebody else can understand," he said.

Tutterow said there are a number of ways to blend traditional and innovative worship styles.

One way is to use video clips from movies, which Tutterow compared to parables.

"It's a slice of life that people will be familiar with," he said. "They probably never thought of it in religious terms."

Churches who want to use video clips must have a license that cost about $125.

"You need this to be legit," Tutterow said.

Dramas are another innovative feature that can be used in traditional services, he said.

"It can help you poke fun at serious issues," Tutterow said.

Churches shouldn't use a skit just because it's cute, he said.

"The best dramas don't wrap things up," he said. "What you want to do is surface the question.

"Even in the sermon you don't have to solve it, but you can give people handles to deal with it."

Tutterow said biblical storytelling - texts that are memorized and presented - can be an effective way to introduce innovation into worship.

"They speak very powerfully, especially in traditional worship," he said.

Another potential innovation is what Tutterow called "faith stories."

"We used to call them testimonies but now that'll scare them away," he said.

An effective method of using faith stories is to ask people in the church to identify parts of their spiritual journeys they are willing to discuss. The church leaders can find stories that fit into the worship service's theme and ask the person to participate. A leader of the service will discuss the story with the person before the service, then interview them about it during the service.

Faith stories work well when they end up being a conversation between two people.

"It allows people to eaves drop," Tutterow said.

Multi-media can also be used during worship, he said. One member of Tutterow's church edited some video clips to the song, "Turn, Turn, Turn."

"People are dying to do stuff like this," he said.

Message notes from the sermon can help people follow along. Tutterow said he provides the notes in the bulletin with blanks to fill in during the sermon. The blanks are filled in on a screen during the service, he said.

"We are such a visually oriented society," he said. "Not everybody learns just through their ear."

Tutterow said there are some secular songs that have spiritual meanings. The theme song from the television show "Cheers," which talks about a place where "everybody knows your name," is a great image of the church, he said.

Whatever innovative methods are used, the service should have continuity, Tutterow said. The service should have a theme that is "like a thread pulled all the way through."

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3/29/2001 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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