My passion is worship in small settings.
I’m Teresa Stewart. For the past fifteen years, I’ve created original worship resources for small congregations. It started with the congregations that I was appointed to serve, then expanded to those of colleagues and various ministries wanting creative worship experiences. It grew from there, and I left local ministry on a quest to figure out how to better resource small setting worship.
Along the way, I spent seven years teaching Worship & Sacrament for the Course of Study at Saint Paul School of Theology, developed worship practicums for student pastors, and curated worship for the seminary at Saint Paul School of Theology. I shamelessly learned from and continued experimenting with the student pastors. Their feedback over time has been powerful in confirming what might seem to be an obvious truth: small is different from big.
Small congregations aren’t simply miniaturized big places with inadequate budgets and poorly produced music. They are distinctive creatures. They certainly have distinctive challenges. No surprise there. But far more importantly, small congregations also have distinctive strengths and gifts. Small congregations can offer deep formation and powerful worship in ways that are simply unavailable in large settings.
Over time, I’ve become convinced that these distinctive strengths ought to be the starting point for developing worship resources and training pastors. What could worship look like if we explored these gifts rather than tried to fill holes? Could something new flourish?
I believe the answer is a clear and hope-full yes! My path to this answer looks more like a scrawling circle than a straight line. I grew up in a small town. I was raised by a conspiracy of loving Methodists in a small church. And I could not wait to run as far away as possible, as quickly as possible. It took several degrees and more than a decade of higher education to fall in love again with the patterns and practices of small congregations. Once back, I was hooked.
There is something urgent about this work—and not simply because small congregations across denominations are stressed and closing. This is also a time of immense change and transition in the Church. During such times, we need more models for doing church, not fewer. We need our distinctive creatures that somehow work differently. We need their innovation, their possibilities, and their reach into the Kingdom of God.
I welcome your passion and collaboration along the way.