By Linda Gastreich
Steve Jones, master of ceremonies of Friday night’s “Worship Slam” said he hoped church members and pastors would leave the event contemplating worship in new ways. “Hopefully, it will tickle their spirits,” said the former actor, now attorney and soon-to-be appointed Licensed Local Pastor. Jones, who attends Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, said the goal of the event was to offer something different—something “not on everyone’s normal palette” and to help churches think about “creating their own new mixture of worship.”
The M’Punzu Trio, a jazz ensemble from Mozambique, and Sarah Bollinger, Mozambique Initiative Director and professional musician, set the tone for the evening, playing as conference delegates arrived for dinner. Later in the evening, the group delivered more music with Bollinger once stepping up to the microphone to sing in Xitswa, a Mozambican dialect.
The worship offerings were widely varied and included blues, rap, prayer as poetry, mime, readers’ theatre and an interactive reading of the story in a series of 5-minute presentations. While the worship elements were diverse, the evening was unified by the parable of the lost sheep as found in the Gospel of Luke. Each element provided a different reading or reflection on the parable. Said Jones, “Tonight we are sharing just a small selection of ways to enter into worship creatively and energetically.” Jones said he was hoping the evening was more than just an experience of sight and sound. “I hope people leave here tonight thinking about the Scripture in a different way. What we are offering this evening can tickle the spirit—but then it ought to tickle the brain and prompt us to find fresh understanding of a familiar passage.”