How can the church honor a person's profound experience of struggle, change or celebration? How can corporate worship link to the unique and real-life needs of the people in the pews?
God wants us to be whole. One of the purposes of the church is to encourage that. However, in seeking to provide something for everyone, corporate worship traditions may have lost a personal touch that members need.
Perhaps your most dedicated parishioner, for whatever reason, looks outside the congregation for support or growth. Positive change comes from these efforts, but often the much needed spiritual element is left unaddressed.
In Gathered Together: Creating Personal Liturgies for Healing and Transformation, Tilda Norberg offers ideas for creating tailor-made liturgies that connect daily life with the rituals of worship.
"Individualized healing liturgies are not psychotherapy but a wonderful adjunct to an inner journey that may include therapy," Norberg writes. "…Personal liturgies can bring a vital component to the life of the church. [They] offer an exciting, effective, even necessary, contribution to personal growth—a natural addition to healing ministries."
Norberg details more than two dozen custom liturgies she has designed and led among the "ad hoc church," honoring such specific events as finding a vocation, recovering from illness, giving up false hopes and receiving first car keys. These liturgies are truly faith in action—intimate, honest and deeply transformative—as a congregation of close friends participate with the celebrant in a service uniquely designed around a personal need.
Her wise, creative guidance will inspire pastors to widen the scope of the liturgy and encourage laypeople to seek an authentic bridge between the personal journey and church life.