Simple Forum 7.1 - Multisensory Worship and Its Benefits for All
Multisensory worship benefits everyone, especially those with various disabilities. How can worship engage all our senses? Review the list on the posted website or feel free to do other research of your own. What are ideas that you think might work well in your congregation? Name at least three or four. Are there ideas that your church has experience with? How did it go?Share your ideas and experiences in this simple forum, replying to this top post to share in the conversation. You will receive 5 points for sharing your thoughts.
What ideas might work well in our congregation? Things that I think might work within our congregation could be: the use of colorful banners, flags. I could list other things that I might like to see done, but as a small rural “family” church; tradition of the “way we have always done it”, outweighs the idea of something new. Budget plays a large factor in things that might be considered as well.
Are there ideas that your church has experience with? We have used Passing of the Peace, The Laying on of Hands, and the bible is visible during the reading of scriptures. People are met as they come through the entrance way and called by name. Flowers and candles are used. How did it go? These things work well and are accepted as a part of our services.
How can worship engage all our senses?
I think one way is what I might call "multisensory reinforcement" in the sense that we can use multiple sense for the same activity, so for a song, there might be a visual that coincides with the scene while at the same time there is the auditory singing while at the same time people are dancing or clapping, or maybe high-fiving each other at particular points in the song for tactile response.
What are ideas that you think might work well in your congregation? Name at least three or four.
Maybe more clapping along or moving with the more upbeat songs at the contemporary service, but I think people would need to be led into it so that they would believe it is okay to do.
I also like the idea of using more objects as prompts in order to help the more visual people focus on what's being said. Our pastor has actually used objects in this manner from time to time, so more people choosing to do so could be possible.
I also like the idea of passing the peace by name. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that there are a few people I see nearly every week and I know them by sight, but I still do not know their names, and getting used to using names with everyone during pass the peace every single week would be so helpful in learning and remembering.
Personally, I would wish to *avoid* using heavy scents of incense or perfume or the like, and a number of people are allergic to such things as well.
Are there ideas that your church has experience with? How did it go?
As I've mentioned above, our pastor has used props from time to time and it went very well. We've used uplifted hands in prayer. We also have flowers each week except that sometimes the flowers aren't really flowers. For example this past week, we had a HUGE box of Cheerios for our "flowers" due to the food cupboard ministry. It definitely got a lot of notice!
We've also done some interesting responsive liturgies. Earlier this year our pastor did a sermon series on Jonah and during one of the bible readings in Jonah, he had one side of the congregation make a certain response every time he read the word "Ninevah" and the other side of the congregation make another response when he read the word...oops, I forgot the word, but it was another word that was used fairly frequently. (I was on the "Ninevah" side, so that's why I remember.) and then every time "the LORD" was mentioned, the people leading the praise songs would sing this little phrase. I thought it was really fun, and funny because people would of course mess up a bit or miss their cues!
It is fun to change thing up a bit and involve the congregation with responsive readings and prayers.
How can worship engage all our senses?
Through the five senses, we engage our surroundings. Worship is apprehension and adoration of the divine. In churches worship often happens by the interpretation of symbols and signs and other forms of communication which point to the divine. Anything in a worship setting might be interpreted as either a revelation or an act of worship, and as our list shows, a worship leader can introduce elements which extend far beyond the music and readings, which might help increase the richness and accessibility of the signage by which worship is facilitated. On the other hand, sensory deprivation is sometimes used to enhance a meditative state.
Ideas that might work well
1. I can see how using fans to indicate the presence of the Spirit could be used, from time to time, as a fun and soothing ritual.
2. I have attended services of healing where the use of oil was effective. It might be an effective way to illustrate certain scriptures.
3. We don't usually dramatize scripture, except during children's time, but I have seen this done beautifully.
4. Banners, flags and processions are occasionally fantastic.
5. We might use orans as a congregation to signify openness.
6. On Good Friday, when we perform Stations of the Cross, we use the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," at each station. I think we could effectively strike our chests, as suggested.
7. I would not know where to begin with olfactory elements--except at our Love Feast, where buns, coffee and beeswax create a wonderful atmosphere--but have attended Eastern Orthodox services where incense and darkness were used to create an especially contemplative sanctuary.
Ideas we have used
1. We do an Ash Wednesday, marking foreheads with ashes, and some like this very much, while others abstain.
2. The congregation loves to light candles for loved ones on All Saints.
3. The congregation has a tradition of a lengthy pastoral prayer, with accompaniment. This is something I learned to do when I arrived.
4. I will sometimes have the congregation read the sermon text responsively, which I think involves them more in the proclamation and interpretation.
5. I like and have led bidding prayers, but here without enthusiastic participation.
6. I will sometimes provide time for a lengthy silent prayer, especially at moments of local or national mourning. Sometimes meditative music is played.
7. In this church (and most), greeting is essential. Lightly touching a person's shoulder, with respect to boundaries and individual personalities, can be effective. When I lead worship at a retirement home or rehab facility, I am often struck by the eagerness of residents to take my hand.
In our church another lady and I have done skits from time to time that seemed to go over with the others in the congregation. I also have used a form of Biblical Story Telling when I get the opportunity to fill in for pastors at times. When I get the chance to do the Children's Message (usually around Easter when children sometimes come with their grand-parents), I generally will involve the children and the adults into the story. It has gone over well in our little church.
We light candles for saints on All Saints Day.
We have anointed prayer at the end of our service by request. All are holding hands or touching.
We visit freely before the service begins and include visitors as well.
We burn a candle in honor of special members.
We have started making a list of praises and prayer requests which are read during the service by the pastor over the PA system allowing them to be heard by all. e,g, home bound individuals since our service is taped.
We have tried passing the peace but it seems too lengthy.
We have provided children messages when we had children.
Tactile: Anointing with oil for healing services, hand and foot washing services for Holy Week and mission experiences, Ash Wednesday Crosses, waving palm branches, children's time object lessons and bulletins.
Olfactory: candles, lots of bread for World Communion last week!, Easter lilies
I have served congregations where there were members who were allergic to smells and we had to eliminate scents for worship and Bible Study. So this can be risky
Auditory: chimes, lots of music, passing of the peace, spoken prayer request, bidding prayer, scripture well read, an all saints banner with ribbons and bells
We have a hard time with speaking out formally in worship!
Kinesthetic: Signing hymns or prayers, sometimes processions but not often, being able to see the handbells when they play, breath prayer, kneeling for communion, children and youth present in worship and given tasks to lead (sound, sing, chimes, read, pass out items...)
We have demonstrated and practiced prayer positions, but they have not "caught on" for public worship.
Visual: I have a few table scenes for Pentecost and an elements of worship series, my choir director is an art major and makes beautiful banners and worship displays, we use standard paraments and stoles, we have used flowers, bubbles, balloons, candles, Chrismon trees, poinsettias and lilies, candle light, and scriptural objects
I would like to use prayer flags and banners and liturgical dance