Wednesday, April 15, 2009
UNDIGNIFIED? - Bob Scott
What shall we make of this? We read about the sad state of the churches and declining attendance. Okay, maybe you experienced a packed service this past week-end. So did I. What will next Sunday look like?
I couldn't have said this, a couple of weeks ago, but I'm prepared to say it now. In the congregation where I worship, it will likely be just as full, give or take a few out-of-towners. The reason will surprise you.
We hear how the Church is mostly populated by the older folks these days. We expect to see a lot of grey hair or bald heads when we head through the door. This situation speaks to the way we have conducted our services over the years. We need to be dignified. We need to follow the prescribed order. And so, we rehearse what are called 'The Seven Last Words of the Church.' (SLWOTC)
They are, “We never did it that way before.”
That may be true. The folks who are attending congregations that are guided by those words may like it that way. My question is how's it working for you, growth-wise? What's the enthusiasm level in your place of worship? If you are satisfied with the answers, you can quit reading now. I'll probably be back with something less controversial next time.
I am part of an older generation so please don't accuse me of being one of those young rebels who just wants to stir things up. I've ministered in, and worshipped with, congregations who have made the SLWOTC their gospel. But things have changed.
Last year we began attending a church in our new home town. It would be called 'Full Gospel' so you can be assured that it was a little more exuberant than others. I have been part of the main-line denominations all my life but have been part of the Charismatic movement since the seventies. We have enjoyed the freedom of worship in our new church home.
So, why do I say that I expect a full house again this week? The answer is simple—YOUTH!
Our young people have been revived. It would take more space than I have to go into all the details.
Essentially they learned that you can break out of the 'dignified' mold and still worship God. They went to a conference and were blessed so much that they came back and told us that Sunday to Sunday was too long a space of time to wait for a corporate worship experience. We started mid-week services last Thursday.
Passing enthusiasm? I doubt it. We have young people writing music for our services. One of the youth has written more than twenty-five new praise songs since his return. Look at the faces of young adults who have been changed and see the difference a true encounter with God has made; the emotional healing that has taken place. This is not a mountain-top yet to be descended from. These folks are down to earth again but have a whole new approach to the challenges that previously caused concern and despair. And, as you might have guessed, their enthusiasm is rubbing off on the rest of us.
Space is limited so let me close with one more evidence of the change. The youth are in the front row. It used to be almost impossible to have anyone sit in the front row. Now they are there, giving visible proof of their desire to participate and to lead in worship to God.
Church can be alive. We’ve never done it that way before. But we’re doing it now!
Robert Scott is a pastor and the author of ADVERTISING MURDER, LOST YOUTH and MURDER EXPRESS, titles in the Jack Elton Mystery series, Published by AVALON Books, New York
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