Sorry for the absence in my postings. Rest assured that I have been keeping a journal and will be back on a normal blogging schedule soon. The holidays were hectic, but wonderful. I always hate feeling like I am pushing soo much family into a short amount of time, nevertheless, It is always a joy and a blessing to see my wonderful family.
Alison and I also got away for 3 days to a cabin @ Pilot Mt. It was some much needed time that Alison and I got to spend together away from our hectic schedules. I also have done a lot of reading and even more reflection and thinking about many things. Some of those will result in blogs, some are concerning direction and some other big decisions in my life. Much prayer is appreciated! I came home with a slightly clearer head than when I left, and that in itself, is priceless!
OK, so on to today's topic. Since I lead, organize, prepare, and execute (with a great team of creative and wonderful people) a Creative Worship Service, I've been thinking a lot about Worship the last 5 or 6 months and what it means. As you can see from the picture above (provided by our friends @ ASBO), there is a struggle that I feel when trying to get to the roots of what worship is and should be, not just theologically and (more often) theoretically, but also in practice.
Most worship services look something like this (with minor changes):
Congregational Music (type depending on the church/service)
A Prayer (maybe 2)
A Sermon (usually the central part of the service)
Now that's a bare outline, but It spans most every worship service I've been to. The common denominator is that with the exception of the congregational music, there seems to be little to no community/Congregational participation. Now I know every once in a while (more often in some churches) the kids will sing, someone new will do a solo, be the scripture reader, participate in a skit, and do a reading/litany. But these seem to be in most churches the exception rather than the norm.
We try hard in our service to find ways to get the WHOLE congregation involved (more than just singing) as much as we can in addition to having individuals involved with dance, reading, acting, etc... That is a conviction that the whole planning/lead team has about this service, and the direction that we are wanting to continue to grow.
However, the mentality of the cartoon above is something that I see in most churches in regards to the worship services. "What do I get out of it?" "What's in it for ME?" Somehow we've made worship more about us than about God! Indeed, leading music, it is hard to find songs (both hymns and praise and worship music) that is not about me/us in its lyrics! To me, worship is what we give back to God. We receive from God, and ask from God, every other day of the week. Shouldn't that (at the least) that 1+ hr. we spend in "worship" each week be about what we can give to God? And that's the struggle.
I am a teacher at heart. I love to teach! But even I question how central teaching has become in protestant worship services. I could understand if there wasn't Bible study, Sunday School, Small Groups, etc... offered and all the church did was this one event each week, but churches have multiple (and I would argue better) teaching outlets than Greek Rhetorical/hermeneutical approach that happens in "worship services". Having studied Education, Philosophy, and psychology... the hermeneutical approach to teaching is usually one of the worst ways to impart information... not to mention that imparting information and education is NOT equivalent!
Now I'm not just talking about preaching, I have nothing against preaching. As a friend pointed out, we have paid money to go listen to a person speak for 2 hrs. I personally love preaching. The issue here to me (rather the question here) is is there a place for teaching in "Worship"? We've made it a place (especially in the 20th century), and yes, there are biblical examples of teachings happening at a "gathering" (not always intended to be read as a "worship gathering"), but a lot of what we have in our traditional and even contemporary services comes from a Greco-Roman approach that was used to best communicate and match the Hellenistic services for the newly converted gentiles.
What if we took teaching out of worship? What would worship look like? It might be less consumerist. It might end up being more about God than about us?! I'm not sure. Just some thoughts I've been having. Teaching is important!!!! Please hear me say that. But what if we spent more time making sure that solid education happened in better atmospheres (be it small groups, Sunday School, discussion groups, Wed./Sun. Night Bible Study, etc...) and then made that one hour a week solely about God and us giving back to God??? What if that became a discipline of the Church? What would that look like? What message would it send? Who would it reach?
IDK, these are VERY raw thoughts. I don't need anyone getting on here and telling me I'm wrong and being mean about it! I surrender to the fact that I am just trying to rethink worship and what it means, is, and perhaps, should be! I am in no way trying to devalue or attack the modern approach of a "worship service", instead I am asking questions in search of a better understanding! However, I would cherish any comments, conversations, and constructive thoughts that any may have!
Worship: What are your thoughts?