Worship: it's about what we're giving


Rhonda Whitaker

Listen to the Laity Address

PEORIAConference Lay Leader Rhonda Whitaker had a confession to make.
“For six years now, I’ve been preaching the partnership of laity and clergy,” Whitaker said. “But I didn’t mean it. Oh, I knew the clergy couldn’t do it all without us, but to be honest, I’ve always thought the laity really could do it without them.”
Whitaker proposed that a new term be used – claity – to describe the partnership of laity and clergy for the purpose of fulfilling the mission of The United Methodist Church of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Whitaker delivered her remarks as part of her laity address to the 2010 Annual Conference Friday.
While many may see worship as the sole responsibility of the pastor, Whitaker pointed out that passionate worship is a partnership between clergy and laity. Quoting Bishop Robert Schnase, author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Whitaker said, “People don’t merely show up and sit passively in their pews; they are actively engaged, genuinely connected, personally addressed, and deeply challenged.
“A worship service is not a movie or play or production to be critiqued and picked apart,” Whitaker concluded. “It’s one of Wesley’s means of grace where we can meet the risen Lord.”
To those who might be critical of the pastor, Whitaker said she would ask, “Did you come prepared? Did you come prayed up, praised up, fired and prepared to receive a blessing? Did you come prepared to be a blessing?”
Whitaker said part of the problem is that claity forget that worship is not about personal preference.
"It's not about getting filled up -- it's about pouring ourselves out," she said. "Not about how worship makes us feel, it's about how worship helps us live. It's not about entertaining, it's about entering into a deeper relationship with God. That's the heart of worship."