In my current role at Cumberland Community Church, a large part of my efforts go into programming and creating our Sunday worship services. We seek to be EPIC: that is, Experiential, Participatory, Image rich, and Community based. Within all the programming and ideas that we do, one thing that we have moved completely away from is the thought of “entertaining.” The church had at one time had that model, but we have moved from spectating to participating.
With that said, its been amazing to hear constantly from people who felt like a worship service just wowed them, or moved them. Without intentionally programming in things to inspire awe and wonder… God shows up, and people respond with awe and wonder. There’s a great article over at the Gospel Driven Church that talks about this. The second half of the article, where he compares the ‘wow’ church to the valley of dry bones without breath is a powerful analogy. Here’s the second half of the article:
In Ezekiel 37 we find that well-known prophetic vision of the valley of dry bones. I find verse 8 curious:
And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
Looks alive. Still: it isn’t.
Is this what we’ve crafted with many of our ecclesiastic enterprises? Have we only set loose an army of shiny, platitude-dispensing golems?
Is this also true of even churches with “sound doctrine,” where human ingenuity and personality and tradition reign?
What’s the prescription for the awesomeness-driven church?
Ezekiel 37:9-10: Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
The prescription is life-giving proclamation that pleads for the Holy Spirit and his reviving wind. And the result is a church alive, fired with gospel militancy and mobilized for kingdom mission.
Holy Spirit, come.