Keep it sorta simple

Last week, our household received a postcard from our local megachurch, advertising its Easter service schedule. There were multiple services, designed to invite people to consider the empty tomb. It occurred to me that the numerous identical services strung at regular intervals across Saturday night and Sunday AM were not too different from Catholic mass schedules around here, especially on big C & E (Christmas and Easter) weekends. Though non-denominational services are different from Catholic services in lots of dramatic ways, it is true that both kinds of churches offer lots of identical worship times in order to accomodate the crowds filling the chairs.
I recently read something recently about the number of times a seat is “turned” in bigger churches on “many-service” weekends like this. Who would ever imagine someone would analyze something like this?
The sheer volume of the services at this church gives me sympathy for everyone involved in producing these services, staffing nursery, commandering volunteers to park cars, handing out programs, running the sound board and cleaning the toilets.

In the past, I’d been involved in programming services for a non-denominational church, and we put a lot of extra elbow grease into C & E services. We understood these services were meant to be attractive, invitational events, designed to woo people both to Jesus and back to our church in the weeks after Easter. The Monday after these C or E marathons ended, I always woke up with a great big emotional hangover. These events (yup, that’s the right word) were exhausting and exhiliarating, all at once. The emotional arc that best describes the mounting of these Excellent Extravaganas was a lot like the life cycle of staging a theatrical production. It was a rush trying to find a way to creatively communicate the most creative event in all of history – the resurrection of God’s only begotten Son. And it was a rush seeing people connect (a few, for the first time) with Him. Pulling a team together, dreaming, brainstorming, planning – nothing beats it.
So first, a prayer for any of you who are a bit dazed and exhausted today as a result of the C & E express. May you follow God to a place of quiet rest today. And tomorrow.
And an observation, from our current journey into Christian community in a smaller, litugical church: There is something organic and lovely about being able to participate in, rather than spectate (or produce) corporate worship.
I awakened this morning without a hangover.
On a related note, check out Scot McKnight’s always-provocative Jesus Creed blog today. There’s an interesting discussion about a related topic you’ll want to check out. Make sure to read the comments. Lively discussion!

About Michelle Van Loon
  • Anonymous

    “There is something organic and lovely about being able to participate in, rather than spectate (or produce) corporate worship.” Absolutely! I don’t think corporate worship was ever intended as a spectator sport, but in so many churches, that is what it has become. There is so much to be said for the group singing of a hymn; the young, the old, the middle aged, the broken, the successful, the sick, the well, all together praising God as ONE voice. When the church, instead, produces only slick spectacles, much fellowship is lost, in my opinion.

  • Michelle Van Loon

    Praising God together – because we can’t help but love Him together – is an amazing thing. Whether it is a hymn, a well-written worship chorus, or a spontaneous expression of praise pouring from a congregation (my Charismatic self is showing here), our sum is greater than individual parts. But only if we’re participating, not spectating. :)

    We were never meant to be spectators.


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