October 15, 2008
Live from REVEAL: Getting the Weekend Right
What does truly transformational worship look like?
by Skye Jethani
This morning kicked off with a time of singing led by the worship band from Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas - one of the churches being highlighted at the conference for their strong REVEAL survey results.
One of the often repeated findings from REVEAL is that frequent engagement with church activities does not predict one's spiritual growth. That being the case, I was curious to see how they redefined the purpose of the Sunday/weekend worship gathering. Many churches, especially the seeker-driven variety, have seen the worship event as the center of the church's missional solar system. Would that still be true in a post-REVEAL era?
The answer seems to be, Yes. Robert Morris and David Smith, both pastors from Gateway Church, were interviewed about their worship services. Morris said, "Worship is not about observing God, it's about experiencing God." Both Morris and Smith talked about the importance of giving people the opportunity to respond through a "ministry time" when people can come forward for prayer.
Gateway's church members expressed a high level of satisfaction with their church's worship services in the REVEAL study. REVEAL also showed that people in most churches want to be more challenged and given practical applications.
Toward this end, Morris emphasizes the importance of the Bible and preaching. "The church is a swimming pool. It has to have a deep end and a shallow end. If your church has no deep end, when you win people to Christ you'll lose them in 3-5 years."
Morris emphasized repeatedly the pastor's role to "feed the sheep." If we "feed" the mature sheep they will reproduce through evangelism, and they'll stay in the church. This is also consistent with REVEAL's finding that it's the mature believers in the church that fuel virtually everything else, including outreach. Morris said, "We don't steal sheep, but I'll tell you what - we plant grass."
Both Morris and Smith said that our temptation is to dumb down things in order to make the weekend service appealing to non-Christians. Smith says that's a mistake. The "average Joe" today wants something authentic and genuine, says Smith. They want to see Christians passionately loving and worshipping God.