Notes from August 19 Discussion about Meeting for Worship

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Friends gathered after worship on August 19th for a discussion facilitated by Eileen Flanagan: What are we looking for from meeting for worship and are we finding it? How do we want to respond, individually or as a community, when ministry does not speak to us or is disruptive? 
Friends broke into groups of three to share around these two questions: 1) What are you looking for from meeting for worship? 2) Are you finding it?
After sharing in small groups, Friends returned to the larger group to share some of what arose. Among these responses were: 
- A craving for a gathered or covered meeting
- A time for putting ego aside
- Quiet
- Connection with the Divine
- Community
- The excitement of not knowing what will happen 
- Seeing how we live out our Quaker faith in our daily lives.
Other comments were:
- Need to practice giving vocal ministry to get better at it, but the only way to practice is in meeting for worship.
- How do we teach newcomers what we are striving for? How do we help them understand even the terminology like "gathered meeting"?
- How do we make sure that we are not discouraging people from speaking by setting the bar too high?
- We should be vessels for the word of God, without ego. Few messages really are like this.
- Early Quakers lived in a society where their voices were discouraged, so they needed encouragement to speak up. Today we live in a society where we are very comfortable sharing, so we need to work more on staying quiet.
Then we organized ourselves physically along a continuum between two poles: 1) being totally accepting of all messages and 2) holding a high bar for messages that are truly Spirit led and eldering those who give ungrounded ministry. We discussed with our neighbors to figure out where we stood on this spectrum. Some points raised were:
- We should do more preparation to help people be better ministers rather than correction when ministry is not grounded.
- We need to work on being better listeners as well as better speakers.
- We want to be open to people learning and growing in their ministry, being patient while they are figuring things out.
- How can people know what good ministry is if we don't give them feedback?
As we left Friends were invited to write down any suggestions that came out of this discussion. These were:
- Study group on _Listening Spirituality Vol. 1_
- Extend meeting for worship by 10 minutes to leave space for afterthoughts--sharing that doesn't meet the standard of true spirit-led ministry.
- Preserve and nurture the QUIET.
- Discussion and study of ministry so we can learn from "bad" messages
- Receptiveness to another seeker
- How do I know when it's okay to elder someone, or how to elder kindly and lovingly?
- Edit your messages before speaking. Fewer words have more power.
- More religious education on worship and how to deepen worship.
- Clarify expectations to both newcomers and old timers.
- Encourage study, like Quakerism 101.
- Encourage those who speak to speak up.