Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Should Worship Look Like?

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.


doodle said...

Yeah, just what you need, another thing to do in front of the computer. Anyway, another recommendation is Brian McLaren's book "The Church on the Other Side", the newest edition. The "other side" is where the church needs to be moving to in order to continue to bring the Kingdom of God to earth here and now. He discusses the need for a new "church", much as Rob Bell's ideas. The church is (should be)a fluid organism that is changing as the world around us changes and as it has indeed changed throughout history to meet the needs of the community of believers. But the current model(s) of Church can be and are ineffective in many ways in achieving the real purpose mentioned above. It's a good, challenging read.

speediebean said...

I'm quite certain that this will be a very uplifting blog, full of Son-shine just like you are!! :)

Mort said...

What Should Worship Look Like?

If there is a question that is keeping Worship Leaders up at night taking Pepto and loosing sleep it is this question. Our own church has struggled with this question for the last two years trying to have one service that would satisfy both "contemporary" style and "traditional" style worship. If there ever was a good object lesson to explain new wine in old wineskins it is trying to combine these two services. I have arrived at the conclusion that worship is what works for you. If you like to rock n roll then that probably works for you. If emotion is at the center of who you are then a more contemporary style is probably right for you. If you are more contemplative then maybe a more traditional service. We come in all forms and so does our worship.

But an even bigger question is the one you asked, what does church look like? In most "mainline" denominations there has been a continuous decline in attendance overall and a major decline in male attendance. We have an idea of what a female oriented church looks like, but what does the male oriented church look like and sound like? Promise Keepers is an outstanding organization with multiple opportunities to attend a male oriented worship service with teaching. But with all the men who have attended PK why hasn't there been a big change in our churches?

Books like "The Church on The Other Side" and "The Purpose Driven Church" are all great books but they share on what worked for them. There isn't a magic formula that will work for everyone; darn it. We have to find out what works for us, where we live and worship. I have challenged the Elders and the Long Range Planning committee in my church to take a Saturday, meet early for snacks, fellowship and worship and then each member, individually, go to a place in the church where they can be alone with God for about an hour. Take a pad with them and write down anything they feel is from God. Gather back, place the ideas, unsigned, in a box and then take time to list them on a board and I really believe that a distinct pattern can be found. God never lets us down when we trust/try Him. The worse thing is to be blind and continue leading.

Thanks and be blessed...

"I am Sucitraps" said...

Okay, eh. In my best MacKenzie brother vernacular, I will tell you what would liven things up in one word....tried and true....SNAKES!! Sorry, its laugh or cry sometimes.