10.15.2005

Please, no more worship "for them"?

Author/pastor Ryan Bolger on worship services and spirituality. He discourages a colleage from starting a service to be "relevant" to the "never-churched," advising instead focusing on connecting with those outside the church in their world -- a "go and dwell" type of service to the community.
A focus on the church service as connecting point perpetuates the idea that following Jesus is about going to church. ... A focus on the service as connecting point perpetuates the sacred/secular split of modernity. When the bulk of the community's energy goes to maintaining a church service, it implies that the church service is more holy, more important, more worthy of our time than the everyday practice of our spirituality.
I think this is true if the service is the connecting point in lieu of more substantive connection with the community. Simply having a "relevant" service is more of the same "attractional" outreach -- it still requires someone to come out of their cultural group and into the church culture. But, if a church is going to "go and dwell" in the community, it needs worship that will welcome and honor the person without a church culture tradition, if they are moved through contact with Christians to experience the church. Ryan offers some thoughts on how to do that:

The worship service is no longer an evangelistic service for outsiders but a space to practice heaven for a period of time, facilitating the offering of the community life to God in worship. If a guest of the community finds God in the service, all the better, but this is not the focus.

Worship as spiritual discipline, as practice of the presence of God. We could do worse.


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