Whenever possible, I like for the prayers of the people to be the prayers of the people, and I teach responses, gather prayers, pray them, and invite corporate response. This usually works pretty well. But the church in which I am currently serving is used to scripted prayers. In the sanctuary service I’ve stuck with this expectation. But in the early chapel service, it is an intimate enough group I figure I can work towards my participatory preference. Today… one person other than me lifted up a request. One. And as I generated prayers on the spot to which I invited corporate response, I thought to myself “Well, guess I need to write my prayers for this service, too. Ah well.”
After the service, a member expressed appreciation for the sermon and then said “Please stick with your approach to the prayers. I love it. And it’s just going to take time for us to get used to it. Don’t give up.” (This same member gave pithy feedback about desiring more silence in the service– she was raised Quaker– and I tweaked our liturgist script in response to her concrete suggestion about how to facilitate this and today… more silence!) I would have scrapped this approach were it not for her words of encouragement (she probably partly likes it because I leave silence waiting for requests!) But… I’ll stick with it for a bit.
A bit later I stopped by the gathering place where folks were shopping at an alternative gift fair and paused to visit with several gentlemen who had been in that early service. We processed the sermon a bit and joked around and then I excused myself to go write prayers for the second service. As I started to walk away one of the gentlemen followed me and said “Sarah, I really appreciate that you took the time to come here and visit with us. Not all pastors do that, and it’s important. Even if the conversations are non-consequential, relationships are built. And so, thank you.”
It’s strangely easy not to socialize between services at this church, but this simple, direct feedback will make me more intentional about doing so.
I celebrate these healthy bits of simple, direct feedback. May they keep coming– both critical and affirming.