I conducted a service today at Lower Stoke that has been assessed as part of my journey towards accreditation. The music didn't really work all that well, which was really due to two key factors from what I can see. First of all, like a lot of small congregations, the music is from Itunes, which is so much harder to sing to that a real live worship group. I think learning points have to be in communication with the church prior to the service. I need to chase more at times, even if I feel uncomfortable about it. It is hard to know if your song selection is acceptable, though at the end of the day, it is the message that is important, and that includes the songs and the sermon. The other factor, is just that the congregation was just well small, several of us had colds, so the songs did not sound well.
I think a further point will be that the presentation was scripted rather than experiential. I think that there is a danger when preaching a sermon experientially that one can go off topic, and in prayers, I have sat through really uncomfortably long and grinding experiential prayers in my time so I tend to prepare them before hand. This in itself does not make them any less real. In the service today, the prayers of confession and the sermon we totally my own work. I used liturgy in the prayer of adoration from the Methodist Church UK site, and intercessory prayers from a celtic liturgy site. The offertory prayer I always carry out experientially. However, I think that that simply reflects my reflective style, and is part of the strength of local preaching where churches will received differing styles of presentation.
A valid comment from the congregation from an accredited preacher was not to include the offertory in a meditative song as she felt that it intruded and broke up the sense of meditation. I will keep that in mind and reflect on all the feedback I will receive in my ongoing journey.
Allied to this, I have completed my first draft in my assignments that will hopefully lead to certification in Counselling, in the meantime I am reading Thomas Mertons's "New Seeds of Contemplation" and Carl Rodgers' "On becoming a Person"