Last night I was enjoying our Church’s annual vision meeting. We started by singing a few contemporary worship songs, then the 3 key leaders spoke about what new changes were coming, what our current vision is and how we can support it, and there was a huge focus on extending the ropes – enabling every-member-ministry in a creative way by supporting congregation-members’ visions.
This comes as welcome focus, of course, but the whole thing led me to think of the ways we, as the Modern Christian Body, are connecting with God.
There are two main aspects of this connection: 1) Us toward God as a body, and 2) us toward God in our personal spiritual journeys.
1) The Body Connects with God
In our contemporary services as Big Church, we have understood Connecting with God using two main methods:
- through prayer – we pray as a church body. The pastor, or whomever is at the pulpit at the time, leads the rest of the congregation in prayer.
- through worship – we worship together as the Worship Team leads us in collectively singing songs together to God.
Of course there is nothing wrong with these methods, in fact, they are utterly right. I don’t need to quote all the scriptures where people have collectively prayed to God. It’s a good way to express the collective longing, adoration and praise we have toward God.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
And there’s more power in prayer when we do it collectively:
1 Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ
But the thing is, that’s all we do. Sure, there are some churches, including mine, where we have services just dedicated to seeking The Spirit, courses for Wholeness Through Prayer, Global Ministry Teams and even a Marriage Course. But where’s the variety? In the Bible, we see accounts of David Dancing before the Lord and others (2 Samuel 6:11-17). We see Aaron building an alter for God with others (Exodus 32:2-8) and an Angel of God appeared to Manoah’s wife who was barren and told her she would be with child who was to be a Nazarite unto God (Judges 13:2-8). There are countless examples of how we can connect with God, and prayer is a good one (of many, many others). I think as the Body of Christ we should explore these things that our culture has lost and forgotten, and even think of what things are in our culture that we could do unto God as a congregation.
2) The Individual Connects with God
The Contemporary Big Church can be like a cruise-liner – a really comfy ride but once you see the iceberg up ahead it’s really difficult to turn that huge ship to avoid it. Making changes in Big Church is difficult, even when it’s right and necessary. But as individuals we have the unusual power of individuality. We are responsible for ourselves (and sometimes others), but in the end we are the ones who make the hard choices that eventually lead us to where we are today – we don’t have to consult a hierarchy of staff or leaders (well, maybe our spouses or parents), and so we have a certain power of authority, albeit over ourselves. But this power should not be underestimated. After all, the Body is made of various parts (Romans 12:4) and we all function differently and for the greater good. Similar to the Congregational methods of connecting with God, we connect as individuals in a couple different ways:
- through prayer – we pray (in our closets) a lot. Through the centuries of Christendom we have come to understand prayer as a sort of catch-all for Spiritual acts. What do I mean by this? Take Spiritual Warfare for example. I have heard many times (and done so, myself) people rebuking devils in prayer. While prayer is meant to be many things, it is not the place to be speaking to devils, but to God. When Jesus casts out devils, he just talks to them like they were standing in front on him. Prayer should not be a catch-all for Spiritual acts, but should be a place of peace with God.
- through worship – we worship God on our own, sometimes. I have heard many stories of how people worship: some sing while doing the dishes, some paint or even write novels. Some dance unto God, some run marathons unto God. Whatever we do, we should do it with all our might unto God (Ecclesiastes 9:10). And because God has made us as various a people as are the sands of the shore, so we should have just as various and diverse methods of worship. Again, I wonder if we have settled, as a people and a culture, into the singing of worship songs on a Sunday morning. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, again, but God is a God of variety and of diversity, yet our services are same-y and repetitive. What if every Sunday you went to church and someone different led the worship their own way every time? What excellence of composition and inclusiveness that would be. What if every Sunday someone different led the prayers up-front?