Flashback – Experimental Worship (FGA Creative Arts Ministry Mass Choir)

I recently came across this video again and it really brought back some memories. Thanks Kelwin Wong for recording it.

The context of it was this: we were determined to bring a “fresh” and experimental approach to worship. One of the joys of starting out a new thing (a new satellite service for our church) was the ability to strip off the constraints of what we had become accustomed to and to take steps of faith into the realm of calculated risk.

The church as we know it in the majority of cases takes a “band approach” to worship, i.e. a bunch of (hopefully) skilled musos and singers on stage who “lead” the congregation to express their praise to God. The problem with this approach is that it invariably elevates the musicians into a special and privileged class of priesthood.

But then we thought: what if the whole church was the priesthood ministering to God in worship? (Actually, Luther thought the same thing hundreds of years ago, but he failed to implement his reforms more radically). So what we did was we got everyone from the Creative Arts Ministry (whether muso, singer or technical support) onto a big choir at the front of the church. That was step 1: breaking down this notion that worship was to be performed by the specialists since not everyone on the choir could actually sing well.

Step 2 was to then strip away all the musical crutches: so the only musical accompaniment was a simple keyboard.

Step 3 was to remove the worship leader, so that ostensibly, there was no one to direct the worship on Sunday except hopefully the Holy Spirit (you will see of course that this didn’t happen in practice because I still ended up directing the choir. However there was no one to exhort the congregation to worship which I thought was pretty cool).

And then finally, the choir would in fact look back on the congregation as a reflection of itself and vice versa – suggesting that the entire church was one massive choir ministering in song to the Lord.

So that was the premise of the mass choir. This video is the first song of the set which comprised:

  1. God Raised Me Up
  2. One Way
  3. The Wonder of Your Love
  4. Shout to the Lord
  5. Who Can Satisfy

I sensed that day that the Spirit of God moved upon the church. When the church realised that no one was going to do the worship for them, each person had to take personal responsibility for the church’s corporate expression. With voices lifted high, the praises of God began to fill the auditorium. In one part of the set, wave upon wave of free spontaneous worship flowed for about 5 minutes.

This was one fresh expression of worship we experimented with. I believe that it not only invigorated the church, but that it also chipped away at our traditional notions of how we approach God in corporate worship.

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