I just got off the phone with Sally Morganthaler learning a ton about the journey from her book Worship Evangelism (a book critiquing the performance based worship of seeker churches in the 80s) through leadership coaching, and back again to worship as the ritualized space of mission. While talking we coined a phrase "actualization space." And I thought I'd throw it out there. Here's the idea: Its defining worship as the intersection combination of living deliberately and designing creative environments.
Deliberation involves encountering an "other" as something to learn from or admire, say for example the difference between seeing a picture in an advertisement and seeing painting above a mantle or in a museam. When the picture is placed in an intentional space the viewer often makes a choice to lean in, to figure it out, to enter it. Art has made its way back into advertising space in ways that cloud this, but imagine the quailtative difference between having eyes to see something with intent, and just glancing past something. This is how art "puts you in play." It works the same way with music, think of the difference between Muzak working to "numb" the buyer and Radio Head's "Fake Plastic Trees" written to awaken the listener.
Now, our lives are meant to be read in the same way. If you develop ears to hear who you are and who others are around you, you lean in, you give qualitative value to the person's place in the world. Actualization is simply about making an idea real. "Personal Actualization" in some sense, is the process of "listening to your life speak" (to borrow from Parker Palmer) and then acting on it. And so to go back to our art analogy, a painting in a museum may cultivate desire, compassion, rage, all sorts of things. And when you feel those things the art is "working" on you (to borrow an idea from Nicholas Woltersdorff).
Now, imagine that creation is designed with an appetite for re-creation, that we all "long for the revelation of God's dreams as enacted by people who know and join those dreams" (my very rough paraphrase of Romans 8). Then the responsibility of the church, of those looking toward the coming of God with all our resources, is to create environments for people to "wake up." To create venues where not only art is hung, concerts are performed, or theater is displayed, but where people are listened to, and persons enact their calling. Church is not space to memorize something "about" following God, in so much as it is a place to learn how to follow Jesus by being with others (when two are three are gathered in my name...).
So then the question that worship seeks to answer, is "is there a plausibility structure in which the kingdom of God is real?" This is not to say that the only or best place for God's dreams to be made reality is in a church or in a worship gathering. But it just might redefine the way Jesus followers approach those things...
"Actualization spac," is an environment in which we lean into the possibility that all of life has meaning, and increasingly so as God comes near.
Thanks Sally for a thought provoking conversation!