December 18, 2006
The Greatest Show on Earth
Sunday morning should be the most entertaining time of the week.
Last December, David Fitch challenged the popular trend known as "Experiential Worship." Fitch said, "?we can no longer be naive that a ?religious experience,' like the one sought in a rock concert worship service, provides immediate access to God." And Shane Hipps has asked us to think more critically about using technology in worship. This week, we welcome a new contributor to Out of Ur. Perry Noble is the Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina. He not only endorses the use of technology to create experiential worship services, Noble believes Sunday morning should be the most entertaining experience people have all week.
From time to time we will have a church leader call NewSpring wanting to know what in the world we are doing to reach so many people. I have had this conversation with many people, and I have seen many walk away either discouraged or disappointed because I did not give them a magic formula. The bottom line is that if a church wants to impact a community it takes work.
For far too long the church has been lazy?that's right?LAZY. We have sat back on our butt and done nothing, asking God to "do it all" while claiming to be "led by the Spirit." And then people walk into our boring, lifeless, and predictable services and we give "God all the glory," or all the blame!
One of the things I have realized from reading Scripture is that Jesus was far from boring. He created experiences for His followers - experiences that they never forgot, and the church should be doing the same.
Today I sat in a room for two hours as our creative team talked about the next several Sundays. We spent 10-15 minutes just discussing how to conclude the sermon for one service this month. We are serious about Sundays and the experience that is created for people coming in our doors.
I have heard pastors say that our process leaves no room for the Holy Spirit and that we are not open. Quite frankly if someone ever says that to my face I will have to be restrained from punching him in the throat! I am sick and tired of pastors and church leaders blaming their laziness and lack of preparation on the Holy Spirit! One of the things we have discovered at NewSpring is that the Holy Spirit is always at work - even during sessions where ideas are brainstormed and well thought out.
If someone attends NewSpring, we give them this promise - we take church seriously. Everything you see is done with a purpose. We are serious about Jesus and serious about as many people as possible meeting Him. Therefore, we are willing to do all that we can to reach people!
It is our desire not to merely have a church service, but to create an experience through song, video, messages, and any other tools the Holy Spirit might place in front of us. Sure, we've been accused of entertaining people, but I would much rather entertain people than bore them. Jesus didn't mind creating experiences, and His church shouldn't either.
We are serious about making Jesus' name famous, and that just can't happen when church is boring. I believe a boring church is a sin! So, we are going to always do all we can to make sure that when a person attends our church on Sunday that it is one of the best hours of their week. I believe people should look forward more to church than 24, Lost, or American Idol.
Those successful television shows put hard work and effort into their programming and it shows! Maybe if the church was as serious as Hollywood we would be reaching people. Hollywood has discovered something that the church runs away from - it takes work to create an experience that people will remember.
I have told people not to miss one single Sunday in December because our team has put together some stuff that we know God is going to use to impact thousands of lives. We care about Jesus, we care about His church, and we will always do our best to make sure people's hour on Sunday is not wasted but meaningful. Now I am off to catch my flight. Our video crew is on the way to a place where we will be working to create an experience for our Christmas services.