Is Worship in Small Groups Even Possible?
By Allen White
Worshipping together in a small group conjures up a lot of awkward memories. Even if you find a guitar player, few people sing, and no one sings very loud. The discomfort usually causes groups to abandon further attempts at worship. But, if you want to have a well-rounded, purpose-driven group, how can you successfully worship?
1. You need louder music.
Seven people sitting in a circle trying to sing along with an acoustic guitar spells disaster in most situations. A few people barely sing. If you know the words, you close your eyes or look down at your shoes. If you don’t want to sing, you just pray that either the music will end soon or the rapture will take place.
Worship DVDs can be a good alternative. The DVDs usually have the words and a visual, so everyone can look at the TV rather than working hard to avoid eye contact. The key is to crank up the volume. If you want your group to sing, the music needs to be loud enough, so people don’t feel self-conscious.
Two or three songs are sufficient to focus the group away from the worries of their day and into the presence of God. The group may not be into it initially, but they will discover that this is a great transition from the outside world to the group.
2. Music is only one form of worship.
Worship in group can be built around methods other than music. You can read a Psalm with instrumental music playing in the background. Someone could read a poem. The group could write their praises on helium balloons and release their balloons to lift up praise to God.
As Executive Director of Lifetogether, I planned to open a conference using a worship DVD. Unfortunately, the DVD didn’t work. So, we worshipped with Alphabet Praise. I called out each letter of the alphabet, and everyone chimed in with something they were thankful for or a word describing God’s character that began with that particular letter. I warned the group ahead of time that the letter X was coming. I was afraid that we would have to skip that one unless someone was really into xylophones. A woman in the back exclaimed, “X-rays that show my cancer is gone.” I’m glad we didn’t pass on X.
There are many great worship ideas for small groups on smallgroups.com and other online resources.
3. Celebrate Communion in your group.
Communion is a symbol of what Jesus did for us. Since communion is a symbol, you don’t need silver trays or wafers that taste like Styrofoam. You simply need bread to represent Christ’s body and a drink to represent His blood. Any kind of cracker or even matzo would serve the purpose. On the drink, you should err on the side of caution and go with something non-alcoholic.
The practice of communion is as easy as reading directly from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. You can offer prayers or not. The important thing is to remember Christ’s work on your behalf and in your lives.
My favorite communion elements are a loaf of French bread and bunch of grapes. Each person takes a hunk of bread and several grapes and shares communion with other people in the group. Sometimes this becomes the time to repent of an offense and to seek forgiveness. Often it’s a time to encourage each other and to share appreciation.
4. Give a group member the worship responsibility.
As the small group leader, your plate is pretty full already. Who in your group would be interested in leading the worship portion of your group? Has anyone asked about having worship in the group? Rather than trying to figure out how you are doing to accommodate their request, why not ask them to head it up?
5. Worship as a group at a Sunday morning service.
The easiest place to worship together as a group is during a Sunday morning service at church. Rather than attempting music in your group, why not have the “professionals” lead your group in worship? It’s a great group dynamic to attend the same service and sit together. This also encourages your group members to attend the services.
Worship in a group can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. By asking someone to champion worship in your group and trying different ways to worship, your group will grow in enjoying worship together.
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