Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Do People See in Your Service?

If I were to ask what I could expect to see when attending a worship service at your church this weekend, what would you say?

This isn't a far-fetched question given the varied and changing worship styles in churches across the country. People want to know what to expect. What are some of the things you might list in giving a description of what people see in your service? Perhaps one or more of these:

·People dressed casually, lots of children; people dressed nicely, mostly older
·A platform decorated with colorful draping or a cool-looking backdrop; traditional church architecture with an altar
·Large screens for video clips, song lyrics and announcements; hymnals and bulletins
·A band including drums, electric guitar and electric base; piano and organ
·Exciting lighting effects; sun streaming through stained glass
·A team of vocalists leading the singing from the platform; a soloist
·A choir singing backup; a choir leading songs
·A pastor dressed in the latest hip, casual fashion; a pastor dressed in robes
·A dramatic sketch of some kind to lead into or reinforce the sermon; a liturgical reading

Whether these descriptions or others make up the recipe for your worship service, please be aware there's one important ingredient missing from this list: Jesus. Do people see Jesus in your worship service or is the focus on one or more of the ingredients? If you were to remove any or all of those ingredients, would folks in your church feel like they hadn't worshiped?

A good pastor friend recently commented that everything in the worship service should be for Jesus, not for us. It made me think about how the focus for so many churches has become producing a multi-sensory experience to make church interesting and stimulating and to attract large numbers. Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting church to be interesting and stimulating, but if Jesus is there, how can it help but be so?

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a church, which being contemporary protestant in nature, had all of the ingredients from the left side of the list mentioned above. The thing most noticeable, however, was not the high tech offerings, state-of-the-art facility or any other of the components. It was the presence of Jesus. He was noticeable in the church's people, in how they welcomed others, in how they treated and served one another, in how they loved their church and its leadership, in how their worship was all about Him. Everything these people did was about serving and worshiping Jesus and helping others do the same.

If I plan a worship service, I hope people meet Jesus there. I hope people leaving the service are saying things like, "I love you, Lord" and "Thank you, Lord" and not things like "Wow, that music really rocked" or "The sermon went too long." Believers can have wonderful experiences corporately worshiping our God, but the purpose of worship shouldn't be to give us a great experience. Remember, is all about Him. Seek Him and His kingdom first, and everything else will be added.

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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