Experiments and Failure

Experiments and Failure

We had a baptism on July 1. It was awesome and epic and sacred!

Yet something didn’t sit right.

It had nothing to do with the family, the practice of baptism, or how we as the church view the sacrament. It had to do with me. Let me explain.

I am trying to figure out how to make worship more experiential. We often are very passive in worship. Sure, we might sing and do our part in the liturgy, but it’s mostly a passive thing. It’s passive for a variety of reasons: people hate public speaking, they don’t want to be embarrassed, and we must respect the introverts.

I have a desire to make worship more interactive, more in the pews and less in the pulpit. So I decided to try doing this baptism from the center of our church. I thought the symbolism would be great. We are in this with this child. We are pledging our life together and we are all on the same level “for God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34). I thought the symbolism would be fantastic. Conceptually, it worked. I even tried it with a baby dedication earlier this spring.

And yet, the family didn’t have a good view. The grandparents struggled. There are all these posts in the way that obstructed the view for others. I felt like I was just turning around in a circle trying to engage everyone. I’ve heard complaints and lots of feedback about this particular baptism.

And you’re right. This experiment was less than ideal. Nor is there anyway to improve on the practice. Sometimes we learn more from failure than from success. If we are to do something in the middle of the church, it is best if it comes from the heart and doesn’t have a script. It would work best if everyone has an unobstructed view.

I’ve heard you. Thanks for your feedback! We’ll keep the baptisms up front from this point forward, yet we’ll continue to experiment and try things in worship to make it more interactive with a purpose. Thanks for coming along for the ride!



  1. Failure can be a positive or negative depending on your use of it. We have at The Gathering have never been afraid to try something new, be it songs, style, what have you.
    Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
    It’s hard to judge sometimes when you are the one leading something new whether it connects/resonates or not.
    But, those times when it does work and you are lifting people up, it makes it all worthwhile.

    • It’s why I love the Gathering so much. We have to experiment and search out where the Spirit is leading us and what connects with people. All about the people, start to finish. Love working with you on trying to lift ’em up man!

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