By: Jeff Wreyford
There's a good chance something is getting lost in the area of church worship. Our culture is moving more and more in the direction of individualized experience and entertainment. Churches are spending billions each year on the Sunday worship experience centered primarily on helping "you" the consumer worship. This only mirrors the path of cultural innovation. We are living in a "iCulture", no longer a "weCulture."
“As we gather to worship on Sundays, it has a primarily vertical (God) focus as our chief goal becomes the praise and acclamation of God. However, as we worship together, we receive the added benefits horizontally (with one another) as we share a common space and focus with all those who gather.
We are going to assume that everyone who joins us for worship is there because to one degree or another we don't have it together and need help. That goes for the pastor (especially the pastor), the singers, the door greeters, everyone. Our primary posture should always be that of a beggar who has come for bread. We invite others as "one beggar showing another where to find bread." Often times our worship is quite the opposite. Instead we gather as the "spiritually elite" and if you are lucky enough to even warrant an invitation, it is as though we are inviting you to come and get your act together like we have. This is a lie that we tell ourselves and perpetrate on our community that both hurts the church and attempts to deny the life giving sustenance God is committed to provide His sheep. God help us when we act this way.
What to expect at Christ Redeemer
We are intentionally trying to offer something on Sundays that God has asked us to pursue and we can't receive anywhere else during the week. We use this imagery of "leaky buckets" to show our tendency to run dry and need to return to the well. This is not meaning to deny the Spirit's work as "the well within that never runs dry," but rather make reference to the role God has given the body of Christ to assemble together to encourage (Hebrews 10:25), as well as sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17).
Children — We have chosen to invite our older children to join us in worship because we believe God has called them to be image-bearers and gifted them to help serve the greater body in worship as they experience and learn the truths of our faith.
Music —We think deeply about the songs we sing. There is a lot of great and popular music out there these days. Lots of older stuff as well. Music is a very powerful tool to take what we believe about God and put it in a form that helps us take it with us all week. Maybe even more so than what we hear in a sermon. So what we sing should be considered as important as what we say. It should line up with what we believe. We have chosen to use the people God provides us in the church to be our primary source of musicians and song leadership. We are attempting to blend the older songs of faith with newer songs that echo the message we preach each week and fall in line with our core beliefs.
Structure — Our goal is to pack as much truth and encouragement as we can possibly offer in the small amount of time we share in worship each week. We regularly use different forms of liturgy (elements that invite participation in worship) that may feel a bit stuffy and structured, but our goal is to turn our attention to worship God in Spirit and truth, which takes some thought since our natural bent is to make worship about us. We hope that the elements and order we offer in our worship each time we gather will help focus our attention on God, help us remember all that He is for us, and activate our passion and love to serve Him together.
What Comes Next
Churches often put more emphasis on their Sunday worship experience to the detriment of members growth in Christ. We believe that Sunday gatherings are vital as they are the only vehicle for receiving all the means of grace God ordains (prayer, teaching of the word, and the sacraments). In order for a disciple of Christ to reach his or her potential, they are going to need more "touches" than an hour on Sunday can provide.
The struggle, primarily, has to do with the way we have structured worship in our culture. Most families in the states are ok with Sunday programming as long as it's over in time to eat lunch or make kickoff. We may be willing to return later that evening for another dose. In other parts of the world, Sunday worship is an entire day where the body pursues "rest" from their work, together, as well as other means to encouragement and equipping one another for the coming week. This lack of resting and pursuing one another could go a long way towards explaining a lot of the spiritual, physical, and emotional struggles our communities are facing. Faith-based communities are statistically not immune to these struggles.
The short is we need more "touches" with God and one another than our cultural two hour Sunday experience can provide. We are attempting to balance our approach towards growing and equipping disciples that encourages our church participants to get involved during the week as well as Sunday. It's important to know that Sundays at Christ Redeemer are only the tip of the iceberg.