A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to spend a bit of time sharing my thoughts to the church. As a young(ish) clergy person I have some ideas after observing the state of the church over the last 10 years. Frankly, to be honest, if I wasn’t clergy, I’m not sure I’d be going to church.
So over the last few weeks I’ve been exploring some thoughts, or suggestions, I have for the church. This isn’t targeting any one particular denomination or congregation since many of us are struggling in similar ways. I started with a number of points I wanted to address. This could very well continue as I explore the church with new eyes. Eyes looking for new ideas in circumstances of dying churches. We are approaching a desperate stage in our churches, and maybe this desperation will lead to new life. For now, this is my last post on the topic, “Words to the Church”, but don’t be surprised to see more in the future.
If you’ve missed my previous posts on the subject you can view them at parts [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
What is key part of our worship? Is it the music? The prayers? The sermon? The coffee?
I’ve been to a lot of churches which pride themselves on one or all of the above. They’ll say, “Come and hear our choir!” or “Come and hear our pastor preach!” Where then someone will ask “Oh? What did she preach about?” Response, “I don’t know, but she’s good!”
I don’t believe we are needing to downplay these highlights of our church. If your church has amazing music or prayers or coffee, then you need to use the gifts you have been given to their fullest extent.
But we also need to know what the focus of our worship should be. Our focus should be on God, Jesus and what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. We are being invited into a special relationship with our Creator.
A relationship so deep that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us the way back to him. Jesus came and lived so that we might know how God would like us to live in the world. Helping others, showing the love of God with all people. After Jesus spent his life doing this, he then sent us the Holy Spirit to continue to show us the way.
We go to worship to be invited deeper into this amazing relationship. We have been invited to explore in a more intimate, communal setting just how much God wants to be in relationship with us. We go to be drawn deeper. To be refreshed with God’s Word. To be with others in prayer as we pray for each other and for the needs of our communities and to seek God’s answers to our prayers.
Now church is not the only place this can happen. We can have deep, personal encounters with our God anytime anywhere. But worship is an opportunity to come together and share our experiences. A chance to be renewed in our spirit as we gather into a Holy Moment with our church family. It helps set the tone for the rest of our week.
Worship is not an event for entertainment. It is not a chance to catch up on the local gossip.
Worship is an encounter with the Holy. A time to share in the mystery and meaning of our lives, and to invite God into that space so we can gain clearer direction.
We need to know Jesus. He is the reason why we gather. He is the one who calls us into this relationship. If we know him, then it makes the steps 1-5 that I already identified that much easier to follow.