“I don’t know, it just seems like it doesn’t make a difference if I go to church or not. I get more out of a good day at the park with my family than I do at a church”, said a dear friend not long ago. So, may be missing some sacred connections within some evangelical churches. We fire up the production and branding to a level that can rival some major businesses.
It’s really about our awareness, not an experience. It shouldn’t be about the teaching series, brand management, or worship production (or style), though it is, really. Many of us have had more sacred encounters outside of a church service than within. However, I’ve been discouraged at the notion that what happens inside our sanctuaries, cathedrals, “worship centers”, or auditoriums is insignificant. We’ve made the response of our faith so casual that we may have created an unsustainable model of the evangelical church. We’ve lost the Sacred in the process. Part of gathering together is about the acknowledgment and awareness of God’s presence… then how to live and be the Church.
I am an advocate for being mindful and intentional while helping sacred encounters become accessible to anyone and everyone. Within that tension we have blurred the lines between set apartness and everyday culture so severely that some of our worship gatherings are no more sacred than going to show, game, or the DMV. Ironically enough, I’ve lost my religion with some of those scenarios.
Maybe the evangelical church as we know should retool or even reform (again). Maybe there is another group emerging. It could very well be a blend of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestant, and Anglicanism. It’s almost for certain that it won’t look like where we have been for the past three generations.
If you are doing the same type of flow, script, order each week, guess what… that’s your form of liturgy. Everyone has their own practice of liturgy. Allowing and devoting planning with the Holy Spirit in mind will possible be the only awareness needed. Even with that being said, there is a thirst for the framework that comes with Anglicanism or liturgical settings, both high and low church practice. It can be a wonderfully refreshing form for many of us.
I still believe that we should always be open to the idea of God using the available. Our availability to be a catalyst or channel for anyone to encounter God’s renewal of all things is what is most weighty. I will continue to believe that there are multiple meaningful ways to shepherd people. It doesn’t always look liturgical, ancient, progressive, or trendy.
Some thoughts about tweaking our sacred environments:
+Know who your people are and where they are in life. Knowing their stories will assist in any shepherding efforts.
+Avoid sonic and visual violence. Having a loud rock band just because it’s the new tradition isn’t always the right thing. More and more we’re thirsty for less, not more. Production has hit the point of diminishing return in most of our circles. You can only out hype yourself so many times. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.
+There is no need to “reinvent the wheel”. The liturgical calendar is beautifully calibrating for a reason and has been a “proven” means of protecting ourselves and the Scriptures. If nothing else, adopt portions of it in the effort to help your people with their daily / seasonal rhythms.
+It is a must for us to acknowledge that a communion with God is possible everyone we are present. To pretend we can only encounter God within a church is ridiculous. Let’s also hope that within our gatherings we can indeed communion with the Holy One.
One final thought as I seemingly climb down from a box…
Give yourself permission to change. Change your preference, change your perspective, your opinion. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to change a denomination, worship form, or style. The Holy Spirit is moving, prompting, and loosening us of ourselves. New wine and new wine skins are a good and beautiful thing.