Simplicity in Worship
I heard Edward McManus make a statement a few years ago that has stuck with me ever since. He was answering the question, "why don't we have a dance ministry anymore?". His response was "because we don't have any dancers". His response was so simple and at the same time alarmingly profound. Why should something that makes so much sense be so profound to us as a church? I believe it's because we tend to skip an important step when we're in the planning stages of our services, events, leadership structure, mission, vision, etc -> we forget to ask ourselves who we are. Maybe it's because its easier to look around, pick the top five churches in our opinion, and pull our definition of "church" from what we see. Churches have dance ministries. Churches have dramas. Churches have young hip worship leaders and guys with thick black rimmed glasses (refer to church worship video floating around). Formulating our idea of what we should be this way is not only lazy, but it creates an impossible task which we then spend the rest of our time and energy and focus as a church trying to accomplish -> becoming someone we're not.
And if we look around we might realize that the rest of the world has caught on to this. The Church does not have a reputation for creativity and innovation. While there are pockets within the Church that display this, the whole still comes across as behind the times, a copy of things that happened 10 or 20 years ago. "If you like U2 then you will kind of like so-and-so- Christian-band." "If you like your homosexual hair dresser then you might want to try my straight Christian hair dresser." But a copy of something else is never remarkable. It's not innovative. While some Christians may love their safe Christian alternatives, the rest of the world just shrugs and then listens to U2 and goes to their excellent hairdresser. And I don't blame them
- they've chosen the better thing. Meanwhile the "sacred" and the "secular" continue to separate and drift apart and the Church becomes more and more irrelevant to anyone with a perspective that includes but is not limited to it. And the God who dwells within the hearts of this community, of the Church, slowly drifts out of reach as well.
We've made it complex. We're stressed and overwhelmed because our one good musician moved out of town - but the show must go on. Churches have music and we're not a church if we don't have music. So we throw some poor soul on stage who has no business holding a microphone let alone singing into one and appoint them the new worship leader. "Failure" is not an option... But we failed a long time ago by skipping possibly the most vital step in the life of any Church or of any individual. We forgot to ask ourselves who we are.
What would happen if we stopped everything today and returned to this question? What if we let what we do (and don't do!) flow out of that, with no regard for what we've seen other church communities or bands or speakers or companies do? Right now, from my perspective, the American Church is about 10 churches doing somewhat unique yet eerily familiar things and then hundreds of thousands of other churches emulating those 10 churches. We're frustrated and overwhelmed. We're hiring more and more staff who we hope and pray can "take us to the next level" (read: "get us closer to replicating one of these 10 churches"). But there's a tiny part of us screaming out to let us be who God made us to be. My hope is that the Church eventually hears and responds to this voice. That we drop our presuppositions about what church should look like and we look around us at the individual artists, teachers, doctors, moms, dads, and pizza delivery guys that make us up. That we put their hands on the steering wheel and help them take this thing to the place only they can take it.
It's so simple and at the same time so alarmingly profound.
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