in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Worship sharing is a form of worship that helps us listen to each other in a deeply spiritual, loving, and prayerful way. It draws us into a safe, sacred space in which we can speak openly from our hearts and explore our own experience. It helps us encounter each other in “that which is eternal.”
Worship sharing is very much like silent meeting for worship except that the participants are asked to respond to a query or set of queries on a theme. It is best done in small groups.
The best queries are simple, open ended, and oriented toward individual experience. They might be about our spiritual journeys (How is God moving in my life today? Where do I turn in times of trouble? What brings me joy?). They might be related to an issue that is exercising or dividing the meeting (What is it that frightens me most about this controversy? What do I long for most in our community?) They might relate to a book you have been reading together (What touched me most deeply? Which character seems most like me when I was a child?) They should be chosen prayerfully, to meet the particular needs of the group at that time. There are no stock queries.
It is helpful to review the following guidelines before each worship sharing.
- Begin with centering silence and reach as deeply as you can into the sacred center of your life.
- Listen carefully and deeply to what is spoken, not distracted by your own thoughts.
- Do not respond to what anyone else has said, either to praise or to refute.
- Leave a period of silence between speakers to savor what has been shared and keep centered.
- Expect to speak only once, until everyone has had a chance to speak.
- Speak from your own experience. Concentrate on feelings and changes rather than on thoughts or theories. Use “I statements.”
- Be mindful of the time so as to not take more that your share of it. You may have many responses to the queries; pick just one or two to share.
- Use as few words as possible but as many as are necessary.
- You always have the option to pass
- Respect confidentiality, what ever is said in the group stays within the group.
Some groups go around the circle in turn; some feel this makes it easier for everyone to speak. In other groups, people speak out of the silence, as they are ready.