I’m on the leadership team of a new ‘alternative contemporary worship service’. The good news is that God is using it to do some nice things in people’s lives. People who haven’t been to church for awhile are starting to come back. Believers are inviting friends. Thinking is being challenged. Hope is being kindled. There’s a buzz.
The whole thing causes me to chuckle. God has a sense of humor. When you think of a new contemporary service you automatically think of something that is ‘youthful’. The vision is of blue jeaned 20 and 30 somethings gathering and developing something that is truly ‘alternative’. It has an urban, hip, social justice, cross cultural, emerging theology, musical angst kind of feel.
We’re not urban. In fact, we’re very suburban. Cross cultural to us means that the Dutch sit next to the Irish and everyone is kind to the Swedes. The guy who preached last week (me) is only hip in that 'almost 59', aging ex-hippy kind of way. Not sure that counts. Some on our team are into social justice thinking but not all. Most in our worship circle wouldn’t recognize or care about emerging theology. And any musical angst is more a result of a misfiring feedback loop in our sound system than a planned excursion into countercultural pain.
What I’m trying to say is that this has to be a ‘God thing’. It’s humbling. Take a look at our team and you might shake your head and say ‘no way’. God, however, seems to believe in us. Now, we’re just trying to believe in Him in deeper ways.
I’ve been fond of saying that our service is being run by people who don’t know what they’re doing. What’s really happening, I think, is that we’re allowing God to be God. We’re putting into motion all the things our guts, hearts and training tell us to do but it’s really obvious God is doing something. How cool is that?
You’ve heard the expression ‘only God’. I’m watching that expression take on fresh meaning.
Only God would choose an overweight, card carrying member of AARP to be one of the teachers at an ‘alternative contemporary worship service’. And only God would create a void in the music plans and bring a 30 something mom, without a whole lot of experience, to step into the gap. And only God would choose to have this service launch in late spring with no change in the Sunday schedule. And only God would say ‘launch it’ even though going head to head with Mission Sunday, the Children’s Musical, and Mother’s Day will make you wonder if you’re crazy. And only God would anoint a non coffee drinker to make our ‘fair trade’ brew. Only God.
What’s also cool is that the senior leadership of our church wants to see this succeed. And succeed in a big way. And our team is praying that God will continue to use our other services in very powerful ways. Ultimately, this isn’t about our new thing succeeding at the expense of everything else. This is about the church making impact and it’s about living into kingdom possibilities. Sure, there’s some tension. Once you change anything in any part of an organizational structure it exerts change on everything else. The prayer is that the tension becomes creative and moves us to be more synergistic and helps us in our overall goal of creating disciples. But ‘only God’ can make that tension creative and stir the pot of synergy. Only God.
This week I get to take my teaching hat off and greet people at the door. I get to sit back and watch another 30 something mom do her thing as she opens God’s word to God’s people. And if I look closely enough I’ll sense the fresh wind of God’s spirit moving. Only God.