i have been thinking lately about worship. often i find myself thinking a lot instead of singing during churchy worship times, pondering use of songs, what the songs are saying, what i might do different, how the musicians and congregation react to the songs and directorial choices of the whole thing. lots of thoughts. about half of the time i am able to get beyond the swelling inundations of my ceaselessly working mind and actually worship, but it usually takes the first few songs before that gets to happen.
here are some thoughts.
we attend windsor road christian church, following a great line of creative churches that name themselves after the street they are on. this past sunday i went with josh to the middle school sunday school service during the first service and mainly we stood in the back and talked about stuff. but part of the reason josh is there is to be the ‘bad cop’ order enforcer, the imposing figure in the back with the long hair and the giant beard. so i stood back and observed. i come from a middle school youth group where we sang a bunch of really crazy songs and then transitioned into chiller songs. we played a lot of older stuff because i don’t listen to the new stuff and know few of the hip new praise songs. windsor road church, i have noticed, leads mainly, at least as far as i know, with a bunch of chris tomlin and hillsong songs. josh said there are just a small handful of songs that the youth group rotates through from week to week. it was interesting. josh and i decided that there needed to be some separation in the way the kids worship from the songs they sing in big people church. there needs to be some relatableness. i honestly don’t think it’s enough to try and get the kids clapping for the ‘upbeat songs,’ because five of them clap three times and then back to the blank stares. but this is me, coming from camp firwood where the sing- sing time is explosive in its energy more so than it is mind-blowing in it’s musical prowess. the youth leader band could play the songs just like the cd, but does that matter if no one sings or cares?
the main church service held songs of the same vein, about half of them unknown to me. so i thought, comparing things, finding the good and the strange, trying to look at things as they are. i guess we can worship God however it feels best, and that certainly changes from place to place. rich mullins and this one extremely energetic old man pastor i heard in rome both said that the different denominations in the church were a beautiful thing, all worshiping the Lord in different ways, different parts of the same body. others, like martin luther king jr. thought that that many divisions in the church was one of our greatest failings. so i was thinking about that kind of stuff and how we worship in some places, and how sometimes things seem really real, and other times things seems like a cookie cutter worship service so that the people can get their Jesus fix and get out.
steph and i were also expressing concern over the strange way we are taught at axiom, the college group on thrusday nights she leads worship for. the main speaker man has not opened his bible in a little while, has not quoted Scripture, has not taught about Jesus, in at least the last couple of weeks. he tells stories and talks for a while and leaves without a bible and without a prayer. we wonder what kind of example this is setting for the group. should we not pray? should we not seek the bible for all of our answers? what is the foundation of his talks? he has some good thoughts, but if it is not grounded in and connected to Christ constantly, he seems not much more than a motivational speaker.
i guess there are problems everywhere. here’s our meager offering anyway.
at salt and light there has been a group of four guys in a halfway house who have to volunteer if they don’t have a job. i am in the library computer section currently typing this, and one of them is sitting across from me. a random, curious meeting. but they are good guys and help a lot. josh calls them his work horses. nice guys. one of them (the one currently near me) draws like he has nothing better to do, amazing things he likes to show off. i am happy to see it.they have volunteered at other places, but like it at salt and light best because, they say, it is the only place where they get treated decently.
but we had an incident yesterday that just drove josh and i crazy. a new volunteer, a white lady, was being shown by josh into the warehouse. she sees three big black guys and says, out loud, ‘oh, i shouldn’t have brought my money!’ punch. in. face. are you kidding me? is her prejudice that ridiculous? meet the guys! they’re awesome! sure they made some stupid mistakes, but they do some much good here. this was the only time josh ever had a volunteer request a lock for her little locker. people!
we spent a good chunk of thursday holed up in our old office, still his office, planning prayer room stuff, calling connections and sending emails. it is slow going. but i have only been here a week, so i guess we are ok. people are sounding more interested than i think we had expected.
there was something josh said yesterday that was amazing in its humor and insight and all around awesomness. i would share it here but both of us forgot it. just know that he said something and it was great. and with that knowledge smille and chukle and then go climb a tree.