Archive for August 1st, 2009

Last Sunday I attended a different church. It was weird to say the least. It felt strange and I felt awkward. I was unaccustomed to being at the mercy of some one else’s leadership. It wasn’t a bad thing; it was a weird thing.

The preacher leading the worship was enthusiastic and energized. He was prayed up, fired up, and lifted up. The thing I appreciated most about the church is that there were no clocks in the building. No one was worried about how long worship lasted or what direction it took once it started. They were there to worship not to be seen. In fact, as I read over their six page bulletin, I didn’t even see an order of worship. Mostly, it was six pages of prayer requests.

The preacher said several good things that morning but I have to say that I appreciated most this comment which I will paraphrase:

The problem with the church is that most folks think of it in the wrong way. Take ships for example. Most people get up and think that the church is a cruise ship. There everyone will be waited on hand and foot, drinks will be poured whenever they snap their fingers, and they will be entertained for an hour or so. After all, that’s what they have paid for.

But that is not what the church is, and certainly not how we should be thinking.

Instead we should be thinking of the church as a battle ship: And we are coming on board, at the invitation of The Captain, to get our orders.

That is brilliant, and true. It was the single best illustration I heard all morning (and the morning was nearly 2 hours!).

The church we worshiped with did things differently than I was accustomed to. I’m used to an order, a live band, a manuscripted sermon, a couple of cursory prayers, clocks (or people with them) and some well-timed responses from the people in the chaise lounge chairs pews. Instead, we prayed, we sang, we listened to a very poor sermon that I thought would never end (and yet we hung on every word because it was The Word), we prayed over people who would be leaving on other journeys, we didn’t even hear from the senior minister because the worship was conducted nearly entirely by the congregation, we were concerned about the Lord, and we fellowshiped in love.

In fact, these folks were so concerned about attending the Lord in worship that they didn’t even pass the plate for an offering. They trusted the Lord to provide. No offering was even taken.

That was a congregation preparing to do battle. That was a church ready for her orders. That was a church blessed because they knew that the Jesus Way is not just about showing up (at church), but about being (the church). These are people who know that the Jesus way is not a cruise ship chugging along for some distant, exotic port but a battle ship preparing to engage the enemy on his open water.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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