March 03, 2006

Spirit-led (I hope!)

I am an introvert. I don't really know how I ended up in ministry. I think that on the day God added me to the list of those called to the ministry, he or she looked at the list of those already called that day, and decided that there were already enough loud-mouthed extroverts, but not enough quiet, socially awkward types, and that's how my name appeared on the list. I made it in thanks to God's quota system.

I'm not afraid of speaking in public. But I am afraid of being called upon to speak, and not have anything to say. (It's actually a recurring nightmare of mine.) Introverts like me need to know what they're going to say before they must say it. The bulletin, with its pre-printed liturgy, and the sermon manuscript, are what save me. There's very little ad-libbing for the introverted pastor.

This has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that it's not likely that I will say something I didn't intend to say, because it's been thought out well ahead of time. On the other hand, one disadvantage is that there is very little room for the Spirit to intervene during worship. If it's not printed there in the bulletin, forget it, bub.

Well, it must have been the Spirit who put this crazy idea into my head. This Sunday (for one Sunday only, I keep telling myself), there will be no order of worship. No pre-selected hymns. No pre-printed call to worship. Not even a prepared sermon. When people arrive on Sunday morning, they will open their bulletins to find that they are completely BLANK.

This is a surprise for the congregation. Well, except maybe for the one or two who know about my blog and read it occasionally.

Writing a sermon would have been much easier. Every night this week, I've had trouble falling asleep, because I've been trying to think of things to say, words of introduction, to explain this on Sunday morning. But that kinda goes against the whole point of this experiment, doesn't it? I keep trying to convince myself, "It will be OK. It will be OK."

It will, won't it? Or am I really as crazy as I think?


Anita said...

Danny, I think it's a great idea, especially if you ask members of the congregation to speak if they feel moved. Can they just stand in place, and not come up to the front? Just ask people to name a blessing they've had this past week and why it was a blessing.

This kind of service may be a challenge, but it could be incredibly rewarding ... good for you for facing off with your bad dreams!

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


First thanks for the birthday wish on my blog -- I do remember you. Cheryl and I sat with you and your wife at a minister's dinner at the PSWR Regional Assembly many years ago -- in San Diego.

But on to your idea for the service. This is very brave, some would say foolhardy, but it does offer an opportunity to let the Spirit move (not something we Disciples are always comfortable with). Of course the Quakers are quite familiar with this way of worshipping!

Blessings, Bob of Lompoc

reverendmother said...

Let us know how it goes!

Purple Hydrangea said...


The service went quite well!! It was funny to hear members open their bulletin and whisper to each other "there must be a mistake, there is nothing written here"...

Mrs. Harris really enjoyed it too, and if she likes it (being the oldest member in our church) then it must be ok!

Katherine said...

Oh, my goodness.

I cannot even tell you how petrifying a blank worship bulletin would be to me. This week my sermon disappeared from my computer (probably my error, not the computer's), and it served only to emphasize how dependent I am on that manuscript.

I continue to be more nervous when I give the announcements than when I preach, since I don't have an annoucements manuscript. Extemporaneous speaking makes my skin crawl.

That being said, I loved the year in college I spent worshipping with Quakers. The wisdom of simply waiting and listening rather than filling every square inch of the room with sound and activity is profound.