Alternative worship has been around the block a few times by now - thrust into our imaginations by the pioneering Nine O'Clock Service in Sheffield, wrestled with by angst-ridden post-Christians, written off by church leaders who should have known better...
But times are changing. Hell, even the Evangelical Alliance is urging churches to make the Noughties a 'decade of experimentation' (as opposed to the disastrous decade of evangelism). Normal, everyday Christians are looking for something different from their worship - something (whisper it!) perhaps more authentically human.
And at the same time, 'alt.worship' feels a little more sure of itself - the protagonists, thankfully, seem less inclined to think they've failed if they become successful. (Although the day alt.worship goes fully mainstream will probably be the time for most of these pioneers to scurry off to find the new borders of our culture...)
So let's enjoy these times of greater openness and curiosity. The likes of Jonny Baker and Doug Gay have been a lifeline to many over the years who have wanted to believe and belong but who couldn't bring themselves to behave in the ways of the dwindling church.
This book brings together a collection of 'alternative' worship ideas from a wide range of groups who are trying things out, experimenting with images and words, playing with liturgy... but who are deadly serious about making their worship more culturally relevant, more authentic to those who want to go deeper than the shallow Christian subculture can offer.
The authors helpfully introduce the collection by placing alt.worship in its historical and cultural context. And there are plenty of practical examples for you to try - and to learn from. After all, as Baker and Gay point out, this is no blue-print, but a collection that should inspire individuals, small groups and churches to dream new dreams of creativity for themselves - within their own, local settings.
The CD Rom is packed full of inspiring images, video footage and words. 'Alternative Worship' will be a great start for anyone wanting to try new things; and it will be a great encouragement to those who have been modelling faithfully an alternative for what seems like forever.
Buy it, and then dream on...