Yesterday I had one of those ‘chance’ conversations that causes you to think. The dialogue covered a number of topics, but I thought I’d quickly share one small point that my friend made in the flow of our exchange.
My friend, her husband and children, have recently started attending a new church. Having been in a large-ish church environment previously, they now find themselves attending a small suburban community church. While reflecting on the decisions and the subsequent journey that bought about their change of locale my friend made the passing remark, “It is so refreshing to be in a worship space that is not driven by performance values!”
She was quick to follow her statement with a qualification that recognised her appreciation for ‘things done well,’ but insisted that her and her husband were being refreshed by the simplicity of their new-found church community and the manner in which the Sunday gathering was conducted.
What a wonderful reminder. Dan Kimball (2009) writes, “We want to honor God in all we do, but some worship gatherings do feel so much like a performance that it comes across as being inauthentic, even if the hearts of those leading it are authentic” (p. 312). I have the awesome privilege of working with churches of all sizes, I have personally worshipped in both small and large congregations, and I am quick to acknowledge that there is no ‘right way’ when constructing modern Christian worship. There are however worship forms that seem to present with higher levels of authenticity than others.
We all get to have an opinion on what seems ‘authentic.’ It’s relative…relative to you and where God has you along the journey of your spiritual walk. The helpful reminder that I gained from yesterday’s conversation was that performance values should always play second fiddle to the authenticity of the worshipper; both for those on stage and for those in the pews.
Kimball, D. (2009). Emerging worship. In J. M. Pinson (Ed.), Perspectives on christian worship: 5 views (pp. 288–333). Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers.