I had a Worship Team meeting after work tonight. It was all nuts and bolts when I arrived. How can we get more people to pay attention when the service begins? How can we reduce the number of announcements? What if we did this? What if we tried that?
I tried to raise the bar a little bit and get us thinking "big picture." What needs to be in a worship service? What has to happen? The Word must be preached. Praise and Worship. Participation at some level. Sacrament. What else? Anything? And what is a church supposed to be about, anyway? What if we stripped down to the bare bones and built it all over again from scratch. What would it look like?
Rob Bell, the Pastor of Mars Hill Community Church, has written a book called "Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith." (You can find cheaper copies at Amazon. I really, really recommend you read this.) In it, he describes a church he attended that set him on the path to founding his own church.
"It was like nothing I had experienced before. This community was exploding with creativity and life - it was like people woke up on Sunday morning and asked themselves, 'What would I like to do today more than anything else? How about going to a church service?'
"The concept was so new and fresh - people who gathered because they wanted to. There wasn't a trace of empty ritual or obligation anywhere in the place. I felt like I was going to see my favorite band. The anticipation. The fact that I would do whatever it took to get there. It didn't matter how far away I had to park. The bond I had with the other people in the room.
"Not 'I have to' but 'I get to.' Not obligation, but celebration. Not duty, but desire."
Yes! That is the kind of worship experience I want and the kind of church I want to help build. What should a church be about? I believe it should be about learning together what it means and looks like to grow more into the image of Jesus from week to week. It should be about a group of human souls traveling the same road toward a common destination, and somehow doing what it takes to get there together.