Twelve has received a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. The grant will fund a year-long project in which Twelve will develop worship “tool kits” for the small groups that are the focus of its ministry. We are eager to get started with our project, which begins this summer.

One of the strengths and challenges of small groups is their being home-based and informal. How do you keep the casual tone of such a gathering, but also deepen the atmosphere, so that the conversation can take on spiritual dimensions? The easy answer is, ‘Oh, just sing a hymn’ or ‘light some candles.’ But the music, objects and rituals we use in church settings need to be rescaled and restyled to fit home-based groups. Music is particularly challenging because many people are self-conscious about singing. This grant will enable us to craft worship tool kits for each small group that honor the informal quality of their meetings, fit their aesthetic sensibility, and deepen their awareness of God’s presence.

Church-related and independent small groups interested in joining the Tool Kit project may contact me, via our website.

This grant builds on work begun 21 years ago with Dr. Linda J. Clark, Professor Emerita of Boston University.  Dr. Clark will be an advisor to the project.  Both she and I have published several works on church culture and worship style. I also keep a website of that name: https://worshipstyle.wordpress.com/.

Twelve’s grant is one of 29 grants totaling more than $300,000 awarded for 2015 by Calvin to churches and schools across North America. The Worship Grants program is now in its 16th year and has seen more than 700 projects funded since its inception. Kathy Smith, leader of Calvin’s Vital Worship Grants Team, reports, “This year CICW approved proposals from 15 denominations, 18 states and one Canadian province, 25 congregations and church plants, two regional church bodies, and two college and seminary communities.” The Vital Worship Grants Program is generously supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment.  For more information on the Calvin Institute of Worship grants program, including a complete list of this year’s grants recipients, please see: www.calvin.edu/worship.