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From Roman Catholic kid to evangelical church-planter to Episcopal Priest…

Filed under: God's movement,willow,worship — 6:49 pm

Ian and the team

This weekend, we had the huge privilege of leading worship at Willow with my friend Ian Morgan Cron.  Ian is an author of two phenomenal books, a great musician, and crazy smart.

Ian grew up Roman Catholic, planted a non-denomina-tional church in his 30s, and is now an Episcopal Priest.  As you might guess, he has a fascinating perspective about God, church, worship, and liturgy…and so we invited him to Willow Creek to share some of his journey and lead us in a liturgical experience.

After reading a bit from his book Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and me…, Ian lead us in the Kyrie Eleison – which means “Lord, have mercy”.  He taught a very simple refrain, and then guided us through a number of liturgical prayers.  We (the band) did our best to think “What would Sigur Ros sound like in a Roman Catholic cathedral?”, and accompanied the prayers with a moody soundtrack that built and built and finally exploded into a soaring “Lord have mercy;  Lord have mercy.”

As it all landed, Ian invited us to quietly pray:

Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;
in your compassion forgive us our sins,
known and unknown,
things done and left undone;
and so uphold us by your Spirit
that we may live and serve you in newness of life,
to the honor and glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

…and then he took the biggest risk of the weekend.  Ian tenderly said, “I believe that we all are the priesthood of believers, and so I’m going to ask you to do something that might feel weird.  Please turn to the person next to you, look them in the eye, and say ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven’”.

The next few moments were as holy as it gets.  Such a simple thing, but so powerful.

I’m really thankful to Ian for coming to serve our church – and exposing us to an entirely different experience of worship and the liturgy.  (You can learn more about Ian at


  1. Personally, I want to thank you for inviting Ian. His contribution to the service was such a blessing. I don’t know why, but often I forget about God’s mercy. I’m standing there looking at the words “mercy'”…hearing these words as we read & spoke openly during the prayer & I thought, why do I not think on this more, God is merciful!. In the end I felt quenched in my spirit & the simple reminder of God’s mercy & forgiveness brought tears to my eyes!

    Comment by Tammy LaVine — October 10, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

  2. I wore my “Story Chicago 2011” shirt in Ian’s honor this weekend. LOL! Seriously though, thanks for inviting him. He had an interesting perspective and even though I didn’t buy his book (I am way behind on my reading already), he was a super-nice guy to chat with. It is always nice to have guests at Willow. God bless you, Aaron, my friend.

    Comment by Mike 2 — October 10, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  3. Awesome. I love the idea of presenting the words of absolution by looking into each others eyes and offering it. Thank You. I am going to use this!

    Comment by Jeremy Batten — October 11, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  4. This was a great experience. Thanks to Ian and Aaron for inviting him. The looking into each others eyes and affirming truth that we need to hear was both awkward and powerful. We need more of these experiential times.
    Thanks aaron!

    Comment by Tucker — October 12, 2011 @ 9:37 am

  5. Thank you for bringing such a rich experience to us! Thank you for challenging us as a congregation to step out of our comfort zone and choose to connect with something so much larger than ourselves!

    Comment by MaryAnn — October 13, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  6. It was a blessing and encouragement to see you on stage leading worship. Love the song and the liturgy part. Continue serving the Lord. ~ Blessings. [ruel]

    Comment by Ruel — October 13, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  7. Do you have a video or mp3 of the kyrie you all did? It sounds awesome.

    Comment by Ben Rey — November 9, 2011 @ 6:16 am

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