Leading a Feast Service

-- practical information and suggestions for leading a Feast service


Getting in and setting up

         Try to arrive by 7:45.  This will give you time to set up and let in anyone who comes early (particularly important if they are new)

         Getting keys.  You will need to get hold of keys as there is often no one else in the building.  Presently these are generally available from the Manse nn Powerscroft Rd, it is better to ring beforehand to check someone will be in ....  If you can't arrange this you can try Lynda and Neil ... or Chris at nn Powerscroft Rd .... or Paul and Jana ...

         If the alarm is on you will need to enter a code number (available from key holders) but often it doesn't seem to be on

         Once you get in you will need to do the following:

1.      Get large wheeled chest containing the cushions -- it is number one, normally it is in the large hall (numbers are marked next to the keyhole).  The cushions then need putting out in a circle

2.      Open the cupboard.  The key is in the secret hiding place (!) ....  When you examine it you will see a small flap at the bottom and the key should be on a nail behind it

3.      In the cupboard there are various resources -- material, lighting, pens etc and the three candles we usually put in the centre of the circle.  Remember to take care with lighted candles and avoid leaving them unattended

         Sometimes the chairs will be left out and will require moving to one side

         We normally start around 8:10, but certainly start by 8:15.  You should aim to finish by 9:30 -- it doesn't matter if you finish earlier but try not to let it drag on unnecessarily.

Suggestions for leading

It is a good idea to hold in your mind the Feast vision

The Feast Vision





This might be summarised by saying that you should be trying to create a safe place where people feel comfortable to express themselves.  This will enable us to try out risky, creative things, share in a real and challenging way and hear the uncomfortable gospel of Jesus -- however we understand that.

What a Feast service can include

A service can include many elements and we are very flexible about this but here are a few comments and things you could include:


         Singing.  Generally we like singing and there is normally a strong singer who can take a lead, but remember that there may not be.  Our Song books should be on the hymn book stand next to the cupboard door, remember that we don't all know all the tunes to all the songs!  You are welcome to bring your own song, but supply words for everyone unless it is extremely simple.  It is a good idea to rehearse unfamiliar songs at the start, maybe before everyone has arrived.  Singing from recorded music has tended not to work very well, so think carefully about trying to do this.  We normally sing without accompaniment and this seems to suit our style of service well.

         Bible.  There are a number of ways to incorporate the Bible.  Straight reading, shared reading, reading together, incorporation into a liturgy etc.  It is often helpful to have passages printed out for everyone and generally avoid just reading it out yourself.  The whole Bible is available in a number of different versions from www.BibleGateway.com.  Remember that people in Feast have different attitudes to the Bible for some people it is the inerrant word of God but others are wary of it because it has been used in an abusive way -- and most of us are somewhere in the middle!

         Silence.  Times of quiet and silence give people a chance to think, contemplate and reflect.  They can be incorporated in a variety of ways e.g. a guided meditation, time of reflection on words and/or pictures.  Music can be played in the background although it needs to be chosen with care to create an appropriate ambience.  Also remember that tastes vary widely.

         Discussion.  Discussion is an important part of Feast but it is more complicated than it might at first look.  It tends to work better if it is guided sensitively -- a few suggestions:

o   It is often difficult for people to simply respond to ideas.  To get discussion going you will generally need to stimulate people by asking interesting questions, encouraging them to share specific experiences etc

o   Use questions which open up discussion rather than have yes/no answers or expect a particular response

o   Some people are more confident than others.  How can you include everyone?  Splitting into pairs or small groups can help

o   Good discussions need to be maintained rather than just started.  If you are leading you may need to have more questions ready, if needed or restimulate the flow of conversation in some other way

o   Leading a discussion means making sure a few people don't dominate.  Not everyone wants to say something but no one wants to listen to someone rambling on for too long.  Sometimes you might need to intervene to include others or limit a dominating voice and help people listen to each other

o   Ending a discussion is important (!).  Don't let it drag on too long and having some specific way of ending it is good e.g. a short period of silence, appropriate song etc

         Sharing.  Sharing is different from discussion in that it encourages people to share an experience or feeling rather than entering into a debate.  You may want to encourage people to share a life experience or reflect on something we have done during the service.  A safe environment is needed for this and you need to be sensitive about what you ask people for -- we are not wanting to probe into peoples in the secrets!

         Creativity.  We often give people the opportunity to do something creative -- drawing, using clay etc.  It is not about people showing off their artistic ability but rather giving people the opportunity to reflect and express themselves in a non-verbal way.  Adequate materials need to be provided for this and therefore it requires some planning.  If you want to use some materials but paying for them is a problem we will probably be able to cover this.

         Liturgy.  A short piece of liturgy ie written prayers and responses can be a good way to open and/or close a service.  It also fits well with other activities such as Communion.  You can either write your own, use something someone else has written or we often adapt something from the Wee Worship Book (check that these are available at the church if you will need them).  A few hints about liturgy

o   A simple way of writing your own is to take a Bible passage, select a few lines which can be used as a refrain and divide the rest of the text into verses separated by the refrain

o   Another way to do things is to separate the text into two voices -- a leader and congregation, two groups or men's and women's voices etc

o   A leader can be one person or shared around the circle or left for people to take a lead when they feel so moved

o   Don't feel shy about adapting existing liturgies, they are often more powerful if made relevant to our particular context or the theme under consideration

o   Unless you are using a very simple refrain which can be quickly learned it will be necessary to make available copies of the liturgy -- 20 should be enough for most circumstances.