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Spicing up Sunday

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Okay, so we've been over why church is boring, and what we can do to get more out of it.

Steve (FSF) suggested that we could make it more interesting by changing the services rather than our attitude toward them:

We need some energetic preaching, use of power point and video, and revamp that hymn book entirely. Also need a modern gospel choir. I'll bring my tambourine to church if someone else will join me, but can the LDS church handle that kind of individual radicalism?

I'm sure there have been plenty of threads on how we could logically change the service to get more out of it -- drop Sunday School, for example, or make the whole thing only two hours instead of three, etc.

But use your imaginations, here: if you could change the service to make it more interesting to you, what would you change? How would it be? More music? More soul? More preaching?

Some PowerPoint?

Anything goes, but do keep the following in mind:
1. It must be a PG-rated service (ie, no strippers, but some hellfire and damnation is acceptable).
2. The Spirit must still be able to be present -- otherwise, what's the point?

Personally, I'd revamp the hymnbook -- but not in the direction Steve suggests. Rather, give me some of that old-time praise: Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart. I'd get real choirs in there with some really inspiring choral music. And I'd add a bit of gothic architecture -- the sort of architecture that makes you feel insignificant in the presence of God -- and stained-glass windows and other pretty (if not entirely useful) things.

If you brought a tambourine to church, on the other hand, I'd be one of the first people out the door.

How about the rest of you?

25 Responses to “Spicing up Sunday”

  1. Blogger Arwyn 

    To clarify, I don't mean that we necessarily need to make these changes to accomplish the goals and the purposes of the Church. Rather, I'm just really curious what all you out there think would make church meetings more fun, and what sorts of things you would do to spice them up if you had the chance.

  2. Blogger D-Train 

    I'll post something more tomorrow when I'm not in a melatonin-induced stupor, but I want more lively hymns and arrangements. We've got some terrific stuff in the hymnbook. I want to hear a good piano player pound them out with a bit of flourish and have a little fun. I never tire of singing hymns like "Come, Come Ye Saints", "The Day Dawn is Breaking", "Now Let Us Rejoice", "Praise to the Man", "The Spirit of God", and pretty much any Christmas song.

    One other thing.....no pity talks. I know that you learn most from your own speaking, but you need to be a competent wordsmith to take the pulpit, if only because you've got visitors coming to see you.

  3. Anonymous Susan M 

    I agree on the more lively hymns. I think even just picking up the tempo a bit would be a big help.

    And I'd add more musical numbers by a bigger variety of people. I've always loved the wards that had musical numbers every Sunday, sometimes more than one. My current ward doesn't do that so often.

  4. Anonymous Gilgamesh 

    I think things would be a whole lot mor interesting if the church allowed small group weekly bible/scripture studies. Nothing spices up a service more than somebody speaking about thier personal insights on scripture or doctrine. Instead we tend to get quotes from G.A.'s and no personal reflections.

  5. Anonymous Matt S. 

    Less structure and more "by the Spirit" moments. Call people up to bear testimony or to share an experience heard in another meeting. Pull someone with a nice voice aside and ask them to sing their favorite hymn for the congregation. By allowing unstructured time and relying on the Spirit to entirely direct a portion of a meeting you create more opportunities for the Spirit to manifest itself. Of course some meetings will still be major flops but people will pay attention anyway as they may be called on at any time.

    Also there may be something to a two hour block with a 45 minute Sacrament meeting. That allows enough time for the sacrament and then one or two speakers. Short and sweet.

    Finally, Gladys Knight should be called on a mission to establish Gospel Choirs throughout the state of Utah. Talk about exciting!

  6. Blogger Clark Goble 

    I'd love the 2 hour block with a gospel study session for all interested ward members in the evening. Sort of a combination of institute and gospel doctrine class, but a little more involved.

  7. Anonymous Steve (FSF) 

    Why not accommodate everyone? Where LDS population is sufficient, perhaps we could have overlapping wards that accommodate a variety of styles such as the LDS classic ward, the modern gospel ward, the neo LDS classic ward (this one would include masterpieces like Amazing Grace), the speaking in tongues tambourine ward, the dance praise ward, etc. If there was sufficient demand in some regions, you could even have the snake handling ward. The general restriction would be anything goes that isn't specifically prohibited by scripture.

    Then in places with just one or two LDS wards in a town, you’d have more eclectic type wards. Perhaps certain Sundays would be set aside for the less LDS mainstream stuff so the less wild members could skip stuff they weren’t comfortable with.

  8. Blogger Stephen 

    Hmm, we get great powerpoint lectures in sunday school in Plano.

  9. Blogger Pris 

    My roommate once told me that he'd convert if the church did snake-handling.

  10. Blogger annegb 

    I like all of your ideas. I even like the tamborine. Boy would that wake up our ward.

    My friend is a great speaker and teacher, she always electrifies her crowd. She said when she taught she was not trying to entertain, she was going to stick with the lesson. I said, "oh, entertain me. If I'm not entertained, I'm not listening, and if I'm not paying attention, what good does that do me?" Well, I am high maintenance. But still...church is boring. What can I say? I feel sorry for the little kids, and I don't get mad if they act up. In fact, in my old age, it entertains me, so I like it when a two year old throws a really good fit, especially if they quote their parents and throw in a bad word. Which has never happened, but wouldn't that be entertaining?

  11. Anonymous Steve (FSF) 

    Would a person be excommunicated for yelling a Freebird request at General Conference after a lame Tab hymn? What about producing a version of the endowment based on the Matrix Trilogy? The script already includes a HM, which I think is cool.

  12. Blogger Arwyn 

    Snake handling? Dude, I would totally be excited to attend church if we did snake handling.

    Lots of cool suggestions here, too. I notice I'm not the only one who gets bored with the music. Shucks, I wouldn't even mind just singing different hymns every now and again, and singing them at the right tempo!

    A study session would be great, too. I guess I wasn't aware that those aren't allowed? I've heard they aren't, but only here in the Bloggernacle. Though, I confess, I'm as guilty as the next person of not treating Sunday School as a real class -- I don't prepare for it nearly as well as I do my classes in school.

    Steve, that's a neat idea -- having different wards -- but I do wonder how that would affect making the church "one" -- I can see how it would lead easily to cliques and splinter groups, which might be detrimental to the spirit of unifying the Saints.

    Even so, I might be game for it if it meant I could meet in a pretty chapel instead of a brown building with brown carpet on the walls.

  13. Blogger lchan 

    When we were inactive, I'd joke that if church were an hour long I wouldn't be inactive. It's funny because it's true.

    But, now that I'm back in the game and actually used to the three hours again, I think one hour wouldn't be enough. You need to invest a little time to get something out of it. Although it would be sweet (and I mean suh-weet) if they shortened all three meetings down to about 45 minutes each.

    I'm with Arwyn on spicing up the architecture and the music with some real tradition.

    I do not want to ever see a "contemporary" service, though. No guitar, no drums, no tamborine. Ever.

    Last, I think there should be a requirement that at least one talk centers around Christ every Sunday. I'm glad everyone is so sure the church is true and all, but that only matters because it points to Christ.

  14. Blogger Mike 

    OK- in all honesty I don't really have too many problems with whether or not Church for me is spiced up-

    The gospel of Christ truly is for the entire world. My biggest concern is with people resisting any spice anywhere within the Church- and thus limiting the reach of the gospel- whether here or throughout the world.

    My problem is with people being terrified by it being spiced up anywhere for anyone. My problem is with the confusion of culture with doctrine. OK, fine- we feel drums aren't an appropriate part of sacrament meeting- but why can't they be in Ghana? I don't understand why we simply translate and/or export our American English hymnbook., our American dress standards (business suit=church appropriate clothing,) why all our buildings are the same, I hope our cultural portions of the Church aren’t serving as stumbling blocks to the gospel.

    I do understand many of the reasons for the basic architecture in our buildings- but I really am with Arywen here. I am not as excited about gothic architecture- however some variety would be nice. If gothic architecture works somewhere, cool. If something entirely different works somewhere else- that’s cool too.

    That said- what do we lose if we do spice up sunday/church? There often are reasons things are culturally engrained- so what are they and what would changing cost us? (not just monetarily)

    As for independent study groups- I think part of the reason they are discouraged is they are viewed as seeking things outside of an authorized and controllable framework that the Church views as already existing elsewhere- personal family, Sunday school, ces. Unfortunately- a lot of needs aren't being met. Do you think officially sanctioned meetings in the evenings would really work for what many are seeking- or would they be just another Sunday school type class?

  15. Blogger lchan 

    I don't have a problem with our basic architecture. I'm fine with what we have, it's nice and comfortable - it would just be cool to have a really traditional chapel. It doesn't have to be 13th century cool, maybe just 19th century.

    As far as cultural stuff, I'm with you. If Ghana wants drums, that's great. There's no need to foist a Utah culture on all wards and branches. I'm just against anything that resembles what the kids today call rock-n-roll. For me, it's too cheesy for church.

  16. Blogger Arwyn 

    Yeah, Mike, I like the idea of letting cultures keep their culture within the Church. Ours may be an organ-pounding sort of place, but if drums are better in some parts of the world, all power to 'em.

    But there's the contemporary rockish music style that's taken hold in a lot of churches in the US, and if ours was to adopt it, I don't know if I could handle it. I'm thinking of guys with guitars on the pulpit rocking out about how cool Jesus is. Maybe I'm just too traditional in this respect, but...my Alabama middle-school "Students for God" club meeting memories start to come up. And they're scary.

  17. Anonymous Daylan Darby 

    MORE MUSIC (Yes I'm Shouting)
    LESS H.C.
    More instruction (during sacrament?) directly from the Bishop.

    I'd move the services to lakeside, park, or (preferablly) a mountain.

  18. Blogger Mike 

    I hope I didn't imply I absolutely hate our architecture- I do usually like most of the churches we build- I just often wish there were a bit more variety.
    You really have to push some rules to even hang up much artwork in the halls, there is none in the chapel itself, etc.
    I think it would be great if we used the basic buildings we've got but just added in a few more different models to the mix and would allow a little bit more customization for each one. Stained glass windows, artwork, whatever it happens to be.

    It is also nice to have a building that doesn't fit the mold of all the others. I'm with Laura in liking a lot of 19th century architecture more than the gothic stuff- I think a big part of that is because it seems to fit our culture and our history. My dad is a stake president up in western Michigan and a little while ago they started looking for land near the two main colleges in town for an institute building. Nothing really worked out- and they figured they would have to wait.
    Shortly after that the real estate agent called and said she had something that might work. It was this great church built in the twenties in a 19th century architectural style.

    My dad recommended the building and the Church bought it to be the institute building and chapel for the university branch. Church buildings and maintenance had to do some work before they moved in and some of them were asking how long they would keep the place before replacing it with a standard institute building.
    My dad said they weren't going to replace it- that if it is up to him (and for at least a while it will be) that will be the permanent home of the institute and the university branch. One of the guys in charge of buildings and facilities for the area didn’t like that much and was kind of grumpy- but most everyone else seemed really happy to hear that.

    People seem to like the different building. It has great character, fits into the community well, is reminiscent of the Kirkland temple, and provides a pretty cool church going experience. I really kind of wish we built some new Church buildings more like it, or would do more to restore or preserve old buildings that could be dedicated as chapels.

    I’m not a fan of the contemporary Christian rock in church meetings. I suppose I wouldn’t really be bothered if people wanted to do more firesides with that kind of stuff, or youth activities, whatever. I think that the traditional musical culture here is fine- improving on it without drastic change would be great. I just don’t like trying to force people to accept culture to accept the gospel. It seems like it makes it a bigger barrier.

    I suppose that may be true in the US as well. Gladys Knight had trouble adjusting to the very non-gospel music of our church meetings- but she has found that there are certainly outlets in bringing that to the church. The more I think about it, the more I think that Steve’s suggestion may not be that bad- if the music is just a way to be worshipful- why not have different congregations to accommodate the differences. There could be tambourine in a sacrament meeting- just not one I’d attend.
    Obviously there are problems of separation of doctrine along with separation of culture- and the concept of a ward being a geographical area with a Bishop having responsibility for all who live there has definite advantages that would be hard to maintain with different services for different wants in music and atmosphere.

  19. Blogger Brent 

    WWJD if He were planning the meetings ? Or just attending ?


  20. Blogger Brent 

    As far as Priesthood meetings are concerned, I would like to see them more goal-oriented. Instead of just discussing gospel topics in general, I would like to see them applied directly towards achieving objectives.

    For example, if home teaching "sucks" in the ward, the lessons could be directed toward the root cause(s) and coming up with some real solutions. Instead of just moving on to a totally different "general" topic the next week, the group could return to the objective of improving home teaching and discuss a specific aspect or principle related to root causes identified. Specific assignments could be made to DO things and then provide follow-up feedback on the actual "real world" experience in a later Priesthood meeting.

    Another "sample" objective might be "how can we increase faith-promoting experiences in our ward" ? Etc, Etc.

    Seems like we have so many topics that CAN be discussed that we never focus on any one thing long enough to be able to effect much positive change in individuals or in the group.


  21. Anonymous dd 


    I'm pretty good at doing my home teaching (about 83%). If each and every EQ lesson was about HT, I'd soon not be going.

    PS. How come the EQ consistently gets the crappiest room in the church?

  22. Anonymous Anonymous 

    How about priesthood discussions where (with warning to the single guys beforehand in case they don't want to hear it) we share really practical tips for happy marriages like gifts, flowers, best practices in pleasuring our wives, avoiding premature climax, working towards simultaneous climax, shaving w/ a razor (electric doesn't get close enough) before certain activities, getting comfortable with (or selling your wife on) unconventional requests, toys, vibrators, marking your calendar to make yourself scarce the week before the period (if PMS is a recurring issue), etc. There are unrighteous or trial-and-error ways to learn this stuff before or during marriage, but somehow I think there’s a better, more righteous way. The sisters could have similar discussions.

  23. Anonymous Susan M 

    Actually, it sounds like maybe that class should be *taught* by the sisters.

  24. Blogger lchan 

    I thought the idea of a contemporary service was painful. If that's church, I'll stay home and watch Meet the Press.

  25. Blogger Brent 

    from dd:

    I'm pretty good at doing my home teaching (about 83%). If each and every EQ lesson was about HT, I'd soon not be going.

    Luke 22:32

    ...when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

    more dd:

    PS. How come the EQ consistently gets the crappiest room in the church?

    If the sisters got the crappiest room in the church, they would eventually make it the best... *wink*


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