Summer is just around the corner, but my mind is on the fall. From now until October 5, I will be planning with others what a preview worship service could look like. I am calling these services hybrid worship services because they will be a mixture of worship, vision casting, and leadership development. They will be the space were core team members go and grow both spiritually and numerically in order to gather eventually weekly.
Planning up to this event has prompted me to give some shape to this event. We have enough musicians willing to help us out to sing songs, and we hope to begin practicing in August. Singing songs is not the core of what makes Resurrection Life church’s worship. So I have to wrestle more concretely with how vision meets the nuts and bolts of worship. What kind of songs do we sing? Where do they fall into a worship service? What kind of order do we want, and how does it line up with historically Reformed/Presbyterian orders to worship? Do we want a Praise Team or a Lament Team? What will the ‘feel’ be, and how will it fill in a niche that is not currently around? How does worship fall in line and push us into mission and discipleship?
In planning for hybrid worship services, I am using the vision of the church as the overarching guide to answer some of these questions. Our vision is a family of God drawn to Jesus, challenged by his message, and released as missionaries. The verbs drawn, challenged, and released will provide the skeletal structure. It’s this skeletal structure that is important to get right in order to answer some of questions about style and feel. I have to admit, it is fun to think about. Putting it together and being true to the vision over the long haul is more difficult.
I keep hearing from church planters and from books I have read about planting a church that a typical plant will loose its missional and missionary zeal shortly after it meets on a weekly basis. The plant moves from reaching out (more out of a motivation to survive), to maintaining the weekly ministry that needs to happen. The temptation, then, is for church plants to forget its original purpose. It moves from striving to survive to maintenance (and in small church plants, that maintenance also feels like survival...).
That’s why I organized the whole worship service around the three verbs of the vision statement. We are drawn to Jesus similar to how Jewish families would make the pilgrim to the temple singing songs of ascent. We sing because we are drawn to Jesus as our Savior and King. We are challenged, however, every time we meet with Jesus. We sit as his feet, and as such, we meet a Jesus who asks us to give us our all. That includes our sin. That includes listening to his voice through the Word. We are then released with a renewed sense of resurrection life. We go believing Jesus saves and that the Holy Spirit is the Great Evangelist. But we go being the Body of Jesus, and as such we are released as missionaries with this challenging message.
There is much more to write on this subject, but that will have to wait for another time. For now, I work with this renewed enthusiasm for how the Holy Spirit continues to give shape, affirm, and confirm this process. As I end, allow me to ask one question for reflection: are you simply drawn to Jesus? If so, remember the challenge Jesus gives us. He is more than just an attractive historical figure. He calls us to go beyond being drawn to him as a leader, or rabbi, or revolutionary, or spiritual teacher. He calls us to listen and believe in his message so that we participate in the movement he started by being released out as missionaries too.