Monday, March 2, 2009

Why Will Our Two Worship Gatherings Be Exactly The Same!

Reason 1:
The primary reason our additional worship will be identical to our current one is that we believe God is blessing what we are currently doing. Most of our guests seem to love our worship and it is meaningful to nearly all regular attenders. It other words, what we are currently doing is becoming increasingly relevant to our surrounding culture.

Here's what I believe: God expects us to make the message of Jesus relevant to the culture we engage in Salisbury, MD in 2009. He will hold us accountable for doing this. Most churches are dying because they have refused to embrace this principle. Many have chosen to address the 60's, 70's or 80's head-on, and are suffering the consequences. Our message (Jesus) never changes. The modes and methods of communicating Him must adapt to become relevant to the culture in which we live.

I have heard a couple of people express a desire to shape our additional service to be more "traditional." This would mean more hymns and a service more like what they had experienced growing up, or at some point in their past. This would make some of us who have been in church most of our lives more comfortable and the worship time more enjoyable.

Here are my issues with proposal: (1) longing to experience something from the past is usually what draws people's attention away from what God is trying to do with them in the present; (2) traditional worship, by its very nature, seeks to engage the past rather than the culture we presently live in; and (3) our leaders are striving to be mission-driven and not member-driven. In other words, we will always ask, "What will help us fulfill the mission Jesus has given us" rather than "I wonder what our members would like us to do" or "what would make our members most comfortable." I think beginning a more traditional worship experience would be a decision to make a subset of our members happy, rather than a decision based on the mission of Jesus. Let me say this though: I think hymns, which are upgraded to a contemporary style have the potential to be very relevant. Doing this provides the double blessing of being both relevant and a connection to our Christian heritage. You'll notice we have begun to do this occasionally in our worship.

Reason 2.
I think a decision to segregate our church members based on the style of worship music they prefer, rather than unite them around the mission of Jesus has incredible potential to split the congregation. Worship preferences have split more congregations than any other issue in history. It is a historical fact that when church members begin to focus on their own preferences and petty desires the results have been catastrophic. When this happens, my group becomes those who have the same preferences I do. Everyone else is an outsider.

So, we have chosen to focus on Christ's mission in making our decisions. Many will join us as we pursue this mission, others may choose to go to a church where they are more comfortable. All we can do is to do our best to be faithful to "complete the work that God has given us to do" (John 17:4).

There would be only one reason our leaders would consider changing the style of our worship for an additional worship gathering: to create a new worship environment targeted specifically toward a group of people who are far from God. This might mean a change of location (rented space outside our facility) or a change of style (i.e., edgier to reach a younger generation) but I promise our decision would be based on God's mission.

May God bless as follow His leading and continue His work...

1 comment:

keyman said...

Reaching back to revive the past can hinder the hope for the future. Being different sometimes means we must meet people where they are instead of where they were.