I was on a retreat in July of 2016 in Asheville, NC. One of our retreat leaders was Heidi Miller, a professor of Christian Worship at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas with connections also to the Missional Wisdom Foundation. During our retreat, Heidi told us that during worship one day she whispered a scripture verse into one worshiper’s ear and then asked him to pass it on. Soon the verse was spreading through the congregation, causing anticipation and excitement. After hearing this idea I asked Heidi if I could try it in my worship setting and then write it up for WorshipWell. She graciously agreed and I am thankful! Here is what we tried in my church:
- During our annual summer outdoor worship service in 7/2016, our congregation was made up of 5 local congregations and our theme was, “Feeding God’s People.”
- After our announcements at the beginning of the service we invited the congregation to call out the various hungers (spiritual, physical, economic, relational, etc.) that people identified in their lives and in the world.
- When the sharing of hungers concluded, I explained that I had some words of hope to share and that I would whisper that hope into the ears of a few people in the front row who would then whisper to the next person and so on until it made its way around the room. I was careful not to over-explain. I then whispered to three people in the front row: “God’s feeds us!”
- As this phrase was whispered around the worship space, a worship assistant read a passage from Deuteronomy 16 (manna in the desert).
- When the reading concluded, and the phrase had made its way to all, I asked the congregation to shout the whispered phrase. A few did but it was weak. So we repeated it a few times. It got louder and louder until the whole congregation was yelling loudly: “God’s feeds us!”
It was a fun and effective way of breaking open the Word, of building anticipation and excitement and of reminding us all of the hope we have in God. This simple whispering could be adapted for many occasions and for many purposes. Thank you Heidi Miller!!
© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2016