The Belief that Shapes our Worship Gatherings

Two beliefs shape the specific way we approach worship in our community.

The first (I’ll address the second in another post) is this:

We approach worship as a rhythm, not as an event.

Increasingly, approaching worship as a rhythm,

or a pattern,

or a habit,

or a ritual (in the best sense of the word)

is rare in our culture.

Our culture is shifting toward seeing worship as an event.

What’s the difference?

And event is an exception.  A rhythm is the rule.

Events can also be very valuable.  They can also shape us.  But they shape us on a different level.

Once my college roommate and I went to a Grateful Dead Show in the Oakland Coliseum.  It was an unforgettable event.  We listened to some amazing music, took some pictures,                 felt very loopy afterwards.  It was an experience. A memory.

It falls into the “been there, done that” category.

Now, there were some for whom the Grateful Dead was a rhythm, a daily devotion, a way of life…they literally followed the Dead around the country.  For them, a Dead show was far more than an event.

My wedding was, for me, a memorable event… a powerful event.  I’m thankful for it.  It set us on a course and continues to serve as a touch-stone.

But, as great as our wedding was,  it doesn’t sustain our relationship almost 19 years later.

Healthy, regular habits do.

Truth-filled rituals do.

Good patterns do.

It’s interesting – and it’s a source or real frustration for me – our culture is becoming more and more focused on weddings as huge amazing events, and less and less concerned with the healthy practices that actually sustain good marriages.

In a similar way, in our culture, worship is seen more and more as an event,

as a concert,

as a show,

as a conference,

and an exception…

and less as a rhythm, a pattern, a ritual, an every week practice that sustains life.

Both events and rhythms can be valuable.

Interestingly, in historic Christianity, there are both:

Baptism is a one-time, life-changing event.

Communion is a regular, life-giving rhythm.

But we design our Sunday gathering as a rhythm.  It is designed to be experienced regularly and consistently, and therefore to shape and form us, to be a central part of who we are and who we are becoming.

2 thoughts on “The Belief that Shapes our Worship Gatherings

  1. Nathan, Steve Davis, here. The Lord put it on my heart to do an online check-in on Emmaus and you. I can’t believe it has been almost ten years since we sat at Starbuck’s working out a visual identity for the church you were starting in Lincoln. My, how Emmaus has been blessed. I loved your blog this morning about the nature of worship. It spoke into my heart about how we subtly are drawn into the mistaken notion that worship is about performance (the created) versus worship (the Creator). Technology can be a two-edged sword; the church needs to approach it very intentionally, not as part of “what’s happening”. Many blessings to you and your family and your apparently thriving church. From Santa Fe. . .all God’s best. Steve

    • So great! I’m easier to find online than you, apparently. I’ve wanted to reconnect for years. Remarkable timing. I’ll email you again (just sent a quick one). I’d love to chat. Peace.

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