In my many years of creative meetings for church gatherings, there have been many angles, opinions, and points of inspiration. For example, it?s common to come in with inspiration from film, music, theater, corporate brands, and pop culture. Inspiration is great.
But we mustn?t miss the opportunity to be inspired by what has and what always will speak to people?the ancient Church. Historically, The Church has been culture?s counterpoint. It has been the rock standing firm against the erosive current of popular culture. From the use of film, cover songs, and pop-culture references, the contemporary church has urgently pursued cultural relevance.
There?s a line between knowing your environment so that you can speak the language of the people and being led by the currents of the culture. I don?t believe relevance and reverence are at war with each other. There is nothing more relevant than reverence, and people are longing for an ?otherly? space to commune and encounter God.[quote]I don?t believe relevance and reverence are at war with each other.[/quote]
A circus has some amazing talent, flare, and production. Once the circus has its routine down, it becomes a well-oiled machine that dazzles and wows crowds. Other than being afraid of clowns (I don?t want to talk about it), I would gladly pay for a couple of hours of fun watching the three ring extravaganza.
However, bringing that type of circus philosophy into the Church is problematic. Entertainment is one thing, but worship and communion is quite another. I love a passionate expression of worship within a church that values worship, music, and the arts, and we should always be aware of our culture so that we can speak its language. That?s what I have been a part of helping craft for well over 12 years. But once the spectacle wears off, what happens?[quote]Entertainment is one thing, but worship and communion is quite another.[/quote]
I wonder if some of our church leaders are so eager and willing to jump on whatever is trending at the moment and, in the process, never sense meaningful traction within their church. Andy Crouch says, ?The bigger the change we hope for, the longer we must be willing to invest, work for, and wait for it.?[quote]The bigger the change we hope for, the longer we must be willing to invest, work for, and wait for it. – Andy Crouch[/quote]
Three Streams Instead of Three Rings
I find it interesting that water, depending on the topography of an area, can either find or create small creeks totally isolated from one another. Or there can be a large watershed that collects lots of water and funnels it into a large river. In most cases, water will take several stages of transfer, but will always find a larger river of water.
We may have a lot to learn from streams of water as it relates to the Church. Three streams of the Church that have and always will bring nutrition and movement to the Body are the Scripture, the Sacraments, and the Holy Spirit.
Scripture. Scripture guides our lives and the Church, while giving instruction through inspired story and revelation. The Bibles gives account of the past and present and leans us into the future.
Sacraments. Baptism and Communion are beautiful symbols and statements. Drawing from the very life and action of Jesus himself, we should hold these things as life-changing celebrations within the Church.
Holy Spirit. When we speak only of God or Jesus, it is possible that much of the work of The Spirit is marginalized. One doesn?t exist and work without the others. We must learn to submit to a greater voice, leading, and action?one that is guided, prompted, and convicted by the Holy Spirit.
The ?circus? that we have a tendency to create within the modern church should be reconsidered. I would argue that those who we intend to attract to church (or retain) are more than likely repelled from our visual and sonic noise more than they are compelled toward it. Is it possible that we should be contemplating opportunities for those attending to truly meet with God instead of the idea of meeting with God?
Is that the opportunity we have for creativity? Finding new ways to connect people with God, instead of connecting them to our coolest productions and greatest musical selections?
Please understand; I?m not attempting to stir an argument in order to divide us. Maybe it?s food for thought. Maybe it?s not an either/or, but a both/and scenario. We don?t have to go to any extreme. We don?t have to lean hardcore liturgical, nor should we go so far as to compete with the sporting event or Justin Timberlake show people attended the night before. The world isn?t looking for the Church to compete with it. They are looking for hope, rest, healing, and joy.