Friday, October 06, 2006

Continuing from yesterday's thought

This thought is really in response to what Jeff said in a comment on yesterday's post, i was going to respond in a comment of my own but decided to post this instead as the comment was getting longer and longer...

In saying that we need to be creative and relate to people's experience I'm not trying to put sermons and liturgy against worship, but to remember that they are a part of worship not the whole of it. I agree totally with what Jeff writes in his comment, that worship is not just about what happens in Church, and I believe that worship is about a pattern of life in which all that we do gives glory to God.

I think, though, that the Church is making itself less and less relevant by continuing to buy into a word bound culture that is a product of post enlightenment thinking. People were astounded by Jesus teaching but were, it seems to me, drawn into faith by the way he lived, died and rose again as well as what he taught. It was the whole package. Likewise Jesus didn't persuade people through clever arguments, quite the opposite, he stated things in a disturbing and challenging way, and his primary method of teaching was taking everyday situations in Parables and making meaning by relating to people's experience. It is that relating to experience that the Church is losing by elevating 'the word' above 'The Word' who is Christ. Our creativity is a God given way of expressing who and what we are, made in his image, this should be a part of our worshipping life - both in and outside the Church building - and it is that living worship that draws people in.

My various theological studies and qualifications have given me all the ammunition I need to argue most things about Christian faith, but as a pastor, worship leader, community minister and Christian the way that most people have come to Christ in my experience is through their encounter with the love of Christ through the lives of Christians. If we see the experience of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles what really made Christ appealing was the way they lived: 'look how these Christians love each other'. As long as we through our Church structures and indeed current Church mindset, continue to focus on words to the exclusion of most other stuff then we are going to continue our failure to change lives through the creative spirit of God. People don't get argued into faith, they are loved, inspired, challenged , shaken up by the way, the truth and the life. This doesn't mean we don't stand up for what we believe in or plainly state our faith, but that we need to explore more creative, authentic ways of living the Gospel in the power of the Spirit.

Thanks for disagreeing, Jeff, i think i agree and disagree at the same time!


Tom said...

I think a common mistake is to make the church service, the hour and a half each Sunday, the primary time people can touch God. I was talking to my pastor the other day, and he brought up the point that he really only has about 48 hours worth of time with the congregation each year (one hour sermon each week, 52 weeks each year, and assume people will take off at least 4 weeks a year). That's 2 days out of 365 that people get to learn from him.

The point being, the kind of church that won't become irrelevant no matter what society is doing, is the kind of church that is composed of people who love each other outside the building as well as in. No matter how good the service, how apt the sermon, and how amazing the worship, a church that only lives and breathes on Sunday morning is a small, limited thing. In other words, the church won't be a side note in the community if the church is a community.

I'm actually less concerned with what a church does with its hour and a half each Sunday and more concerned what it does the rest of the time.

It's been an interesting series of posts. Looking forward to what comes next.

jeff said...

Glad you wrote more. I see what you're saying. I think I agree with the disagreement about whether we agreed.

I will throw in one more thought though, just to make myself feel better, the only way people will ever be able to live the Word (the actual outpouring of "no longer I who lives but Christ in me") is if the people are immersed in the Word to know what it means to live it. You've got to know the Scripture in order to live it. I think we overemphasize experience to the extent we don't know what it is we're trying to experience.