What Can Your Service Do that Nothing Else Can Do?
I’m grateful I don’t live in the Dark Ages. I love reading the Bible for myself and learning about God. And I love having a pastor who can help me understand some of the more difficult things that might not make sense at first.
In the Dark Ages, that wasn’t an option. If I could even read at all, I probably wouldn’t have had access to a Bible on my own – much less in my own language. My only way to learn about God was to visit a church and hear a man – verbally – tell me what I needed to know.
I’m grateful to folks like Martin Luther who helped bring the Bible to us “regular folks”. I’m also grateful for technology that has made information accessible, finally, to everyone.
The information age was a gift; I no longer rely solely on the pastor to tell me about God.
Unfortunately, that can leave the church in somewhat of an awkward position. What’s a pastor’s role if not to teach the Bible?
In order for the church to maintain maximum effect, we need to change our paradigm when it comes to what our churches are created to do.
1. People don’t need more information.
At the click of a button, I have access to some of the greatest Bible teachers on earth. I can listen to John Piper, Matt Chandler, Andy Stanley… Pick whatever extreme you want. I can listen to any content I want with only seconds of waiting time.
Or look at blogs. I can quickly Google any question I have about the Bible and get 15 different perspectives on what a verse means.
Information is no longer the problem. I can get information everywhere. Your church is no longer the keeper of information.
So here’s my question for you: What can your church do that a blog post can’t? That a YouTube video can’t? That a sermon podcast can’t?
It’s not information. Not entertainment. Not even emotional inspiration.
2. Your people need an experience.
They need an experience with each other and an experience with God. Now, that’s not really anything new. But it’s easy to forget this because we so often focus on the content of our Sunday mornings instead of the experience.
There’s a community experience that can only happen when a bunch of people with the same faith get into a room together. And there’s a unique experience with God that we can only get in community. When I see my fellow believer lifting his hands in worship, it encourages me to do the same. When I see my fellow believer tearing up over the message, it reminds me that I’m not alone in my walk. And when I hear about my fellow believer making an impact in her community, it reminds me I’m part of something bigger than myself.
How much time during the week do you focus on crafting an experience where people can connect with each other and with God? How intentional are you about making space where people can respond, both internally and externally, to what God is doing through hearts. I know you’re spending time on the content, but what about the experience?
We can’t manufacture God moving. But we are promised that He moves when two or three of us gather together. Our opportunity is to create an environment and some space for unique things to happen. We create an atmosphere where people become receptive to hearing from God. Then He speaks.
That means sometimes we need to wow people. We need to shake them up from what they expected when they walked into the church and remind them that something unique is happening. Other times, though, we need to do something dreadfully boring so it doesn’t become a spectacle; then God can speak in His still soft voice.
This is where creativity enters the equation. We have the opportunity to creatively make something boring. And we have the opportunity to creatively make something exciting.
- We can sing songs of celebration.
- Make videos of contemplation.
- Craft music filled with empty space.
- Intentionally and instructively introduce silence into the room.
- Tell stories of repentance.
- Film vignettes that make people burst out laughing.
- Craft sermons that illicit a standing ovation.
But the motivation behind each one of these things needs to be the experience we’re giving people – both with God and with their fellow believers. They can get better entertainment on Youtube. They can get more emotional inspiration from a movie. They can get all the information they need from Wikipedia and podcasted sermons.
The dynamic we create when we gather together as a community of believers is the experience people need. Invest creativity energy into making that atmosphere the best it can be. Then let God move on people’s hearts and see your community blossom in a way that’s impossible without the church.