Black United Methodists Discuss Ways to Worship Effectively in the Modern Day Church

Some 500 African-American United Methodists gathered in Myrtle Beach, S.C. for a conference on building effective worship for the modern-day church, March 16-19.

“Worship is vital in our church,” said the Rev. Vincent Harris, chairperson of Black Methodist for Church Renewal, Inc. “In its initial context, vital worship has tremendous benefits in that it leads people into a relationship with Christ.”

According to the United Methodist News Service, the message that “worship is a tribute to God and is singularly directed toward God, who is the subject of worship” was reinforced throughout the four-day meeting. Another view was that worship is the “essence of what has fueled our (African-American United Methodists) being.”

Throughout the gathering, keynote speakers and workshop leaders focused on worship, including the styles, leadership and accompaniments of worship.

One workshop, led by Lamont Hogans, a staff member of New Life Community Church, a United Methodist congregation in Jacksonville, Fla., focused the role of technology in worship.

“When people walk through the church’s front door, they want interaction. They do not want dead time,” said Hogans, New Life’s minister of music. He described the various technological devices used at his church to “get people online with the upcoming service.”

Technology, he explained, encompasses a large area and can be simplistic or multi-advanced. Whatever technology is used has to be “managed and made to work for you as it gets people attention and gets them involved." It is particularly effective as a way to reach youth, he pointed out, according to UMNS.

Through such devices as Power Point presentations, video imagery or sensory production, technology provides a tool to get the message across in church. “The use of technology does not save,” Hogans said. “The word saves. Technology just gets people’s attention.”

Meanwhile, the BMCR’s chairperson, Rev. Harris, explained that the theme of the gathering “If we Built It, They Will Come; Building Effective Worship” reflected what each African Aemrican church should strive for.

“If black churches build life-changing worship services, people will come. People who are authentic in worship will draw others and will give off an understanding of God’s power,” said Rev. Harris. “Spiritual disciplines come out of our experience with worship.”