I have a question for you. It?s pretty simple but may be hard to answer: when was the last time you went to church?
I?m not asking when you last worked in a church service. You do that every single weekend. I?m asking, when was the last time you woke up on a Sunday morning, got in the car with your spouse, and drove to church? When did you last have to fight for a parking space, find a seat, and then sit down as a normal churchgoer?
For me, it had been a while.
For the past few years, I held the role of weekend producer. We have six services spread over three venues, and my job was to make sure they ran as smoothly as possible. This meant that for me, going to church consisted of listening to the sermon while sitting on a cabinet in the tech booth hoping something didn?t break.
That?s not a normal person?s church-going experience.
But it?s the experience that you?the producer, worship leader, tech guy, or volunteer?can relate to.
A couple of months ago, my role changed to one that has no weekend responsibilities. That meant that church services were no longer my job. Church was now something I chose to go to, not something I had to do. On that first Sunday with no responsibilities, I was excited to sit next to my wife, to worship among my friends, and to be a normal churchgoer.
The only problem was I forgot how to go to church.
What most people do every single week felt weird to me: I knew where everything was, but it wasn?t the same experience I remembered.
We found people to sit with and made our way to our seats. As the worship band was leading us, I sang along but found myself noticing little things:
- Why are the slides transitioning that slowly? Is the computer messed up?
- Those lights look good. Oh, wait. Pull the spot up on her. Okay, good job. Just a second late.
- How are people responding to this song?
- Whoa. Good crowd today.
- That new microphone sounds great on him.
- We sang unforeseen kiss instead of sloppy wet? Darn.
- Awesome transition out of worship. I should text him.
- We?re sitting now? Cool.
And that was only in the first 30 minutes.
As I was sitting in my chair, I realized I?d spent years creating environments for people to meet Jesus, yet I?d forgotten how to meet him there myself.[quote]I?d spent years creating environments for people to meet Jesus, yet I?d forgotten how to meet him there myself.[/quote]
I wish I could put a pretty bow on everything. I want to tell you the three things you can do that will absolutely take away the distractions in your brain as you move from church creative to normal churchgoer. Unfortunately, I can’t. It’s not that easy. Each week is a battle in your head. It?s a fight to focus, to keep your priorities right, and to avoid critiquing.
Every fighter has an arsenal of moves he goes to. He knows what they are, when to use them, and most importantly, how to use them. Over the past few weeks, I?ve developed a few moves that have helped me begin this fight to become a normal churchgoer again. Perhaps they can be helpful for you too?regardless of whether or not you?re serving or merely attending.
Remember why you?re there.
Yes, this is as clich?d as clich? gets. It?s a clich? because it?s true. We have to remind ourselves that we are at church to worship a living God who is present, available, and wants to meet with us. The time to set up environments for people to meet Jesus has already happened. It?s now time for us to embrace those environments, trust our volunteers, and meet with him ourselves. We have to focus solely on the idea that the Spirit of God is in the same room as us, and he?s longing for us to be with him. The lights, music, and slides will be turned off in an hour, but what will last us through the end of time is our relationship with the one we?re there to worship.[quote]It?s now time for us to embrace those environments, trust our volunteers, and meet with him ourselves.[/quote]
Realize everyone is different.
If we put ten church creatives in a room and asked them their philosophy on how to do different things within a church service, we would get many answers and most would be right. Someone doing things differently than you doesn?t mean they?re doing them incorrectly. I know you?ve spent hours training your volunteers to do things the way you think it should be done, and it hurts to see things done differently, but they have their own eyes and their own perspective. If you trust them enough to pull off the service without you, trust them enough to do it with their spin. Again, we?re in the chair and not in the booth for a reason. Remember that reason.[quote]If you trust a volunteer?enough to pull off the service without you, trust them enough to do it with their spin.[/quote]
Recognize this is a chance to grow.
You have a chance to grow yourself, and you have a chance to help someone else grow. Fighting through the distractions to be a disciplined worshiper will impact who you are. You?ll learn how to focus on what God is doing in a new way. You?ll see him in a new light and from a new perspective. Before you know it, you?ll be fighting to focus on God in all the areas of your life and not just the 80 minutes you?re in the building on Sunday.
You also have the chance to help someone else grow. Your experience on the weekend gives you a different perspective than the average person in the seats. As you sit in a service and notice new things for the first time, realize that the people running the production may not have noticed them either. By using your skillset and unique view of a service, you have the opportunity to help the current production guys to do things better. Don?t be afraid to speak up, but make sure not to be a jerk about it either.
I?m still learning how to go to church again. I?m picking up new moves for my arsenal each week. It?s getting easier. And it?s becoming a joy, no longer a job.
Have you had to learn how to go to church again? What helped you? What?s your go-to move each weekend? There are many things fighting for our attention every minute of every day. What will you fight to focus on?
2 replies on “I Forgot How to Go to Church”
I NEEDED THIS! Matter of fact, wish I had this article a year ago when I resigned from a 15+ year run as a worship leader and FTE of a large church. What’s worked for me in my transition is to 1) Go to a completely different worship experience from where I was working to change my perspective of what was necessary for the normal church goer THERE. If I have no idea what works for that congregation, there’s no way I can do anything but accept this experience AS IS. Although essentially the same, the view was different from their … MY seat. 2) Mindfully remember my role was no longer giver but receiver. I had to remember I’m not responsible for fixing the mishaps or come up with alternatives to make it work by the next service. I didn’t have the cell phone numbers of the sound engineer or the Music Pastor to suggest changes. It’s funny, in that way, I become Macgyver-esque — ready to unarm a ticking bomb with a bobby pin and a church bulletin. LOL I still fight myself to not critique nor run to the rescue to correct what I perceive as errors when I attend services…but I’m getting there.. 3) Sit quietly, with my brain switched off. Many times I was unable to receive because I was simply thinking too much and not present with Christ in each moment of the service. Remembering there’s something for me in every part of it made me not want to miss any of it working in my head.
I’ve recently realized the same thing as your #1. This past weekend I was able to visit the church we planted earlier this year. They’re a church of 150 or so meeting in an elementary school gym. They don’t have anywhere near the bells and whistles as the church I was at. I found myself smiling at the “mess-ups” because they were still learning how to do church and training brand new volunteers. The raw nature of a mobile church in a school gym took away all of the performance hang ups I would have at a typical larger church.
I’m learning each weekend it’s all a process. As long as we’re in a legitimate pursuit of Jesus, I’m pretty sure he’s okay with us struggling to figure it out.