Alternative Worship Ideas

Gary Gocek bio

Stuff I Think About During Mainstream Services

2014,,, all rights reserved. Hover for usage notes. Email a link to a friend. Other articles by Gary.


Introduction and acknowledgments.


Revised 2014-11-17.

Since 2009, as a Christian layperson, I have been reading and writing extensively on Christian topics. I have read apologetic stuff, liberal stuff, secular philosophy stuff, and have viewed videos and countless web sites. Much of the content I have consumed, including from other Christians, disagrees with my beliefs although I consider myself a committed, educated Christian.

I toy with many ideas for making "mainstream" church services more, well, more something. Interesting, interactive, spiritual, exciting ... any and all of those, and more.


I received valuable assistance in the development of this article, but this article is my own work with the help of my god and I am the only person who should be held accountable.

The Polish Heritage Society of Rochester granted me a scholarship in recognition of my in-kind contributions. I used funds from that scholarship to develop this article. This article may not represent the perspective of the PHSR.

A few members of the clergy have guided me since around 1990. This article presents my own beliefs, and these priests may not agree with some points, and they did not review all my points, so I will use first names only: Deven, Julie, Peter, Bill and David.

Thanks to my lovely wife, Susan for her support, even when she doesn't know she's being supportive.

Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. See my bibliography for more information.

Technical and Grammar Notes

As a monist, my god cannot be separated in a way that can be named. The weakness of human language forces me to discuss the divine as if it were discussable. I don't believe in a different god for each of us, but I will refer to "my god" or "our god" or "the divine", etc., rather than "God". This grammar will sometimes seem forced, but I hope it drives home my monist points.

As a software developer, I have found the development of a long article for the web to be technically interesting. If you have any thoughts on the technical aspects of, let me know. NRSV Bible verses do not capitalize "he" and "him" when referring to Jesus, but I otherwise conform to this tradition. Please report errors, misspellings, etc.


I came across a link to a web page with "60 ideas for creative worship". The original page has been deleted or moved, but I found the page on My ideas below are not the same as, but were inspired by those 60 ideas. Thanks to

Web surfing keywords

Alt worship, alternative worship, creative worship, contemplative worship, Emergent Village, emerging church, Fresh Expression or fresh expressions.

Worship stations

Instead of seating congregants in stationary pews, prepare multiple stations to be visited. Each station can have a speaker, music, art, readings, prayer ideas, etc.

Interactive sermons

Interactive sermons. Act out the readings.

Food and drink

Incorporate eating and drinking into the service (rather than a post-service coffee hour).

Alternative venues and times

Hold a service or prayer session of Bible study at a bar, coffee shop, picnic area, home, etc. Meet at times other than Sunday morning.


Write confessions, regrets, disappointments, etc., on slips of paper. They may be kept secret (or not). Destroy the papers. Confess publicly. Wash sins off your hands with water.


Write prayers, hopes, good works, etc., on slips of paper. Read them aloud or post them on a wall or cross.


Multimedia during services. Videos, recorded music, artwork, etc.

Collaborative prayer

Have each person write a line of a prayer and see where it goes. In general, start a prayer and guide each person to grow it.


Biographical Notes

Here are some biographical notes on authors whose works were researched for this article.


Click to view the bibliography.