My Dream for Sunday MorningsFeatured, Park Plaza, Worship Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
It has been my experience that many churches enjoy outstanding preaching while their singing and worship leaves much to be desired. Even though we prioritize, expect and reward quality preaching, our Sunday morning assemblies do not have to be an “either-or” proposition. After all, assemblies should be transforming encounters, as described in the book, “A Gathered People.”
Park Plaza is extremely blessed to have outstanding and convicting preaching, as Mitch Wilburn consistently and boldly delivers the truth in love. Since it is my responsibility to plan our worship assemblies, I have chosen to seek at least two priorities for the Park Plaza family. As I dream of the potential of our assemblies, I’m drawn to these two priorities: We need to host gatherings of vibrant celebration. We should also become a welcome haven, known to be a genuine, family reunion.
When I place celebration at the top of the list, I am in no way discounting the highly diverse modes of worship which encompass tears, laments, silence, meditation and other aspects of human emotion. We can (and should) embrace God through such diversity. Yet, regular assemblies tend to gravitate toward one primary description or emphasis. This is only normal. The question is, as you engage in honest evaluation, what is the primary characteristic of your gathering?
The resurrection compels us to celebrate. Those of us who are followers of The Way have an unswerving faith in the resurrection of our Lord, as well as the promise of our own resurrection. Minus this belief, our faith is vain. This truth delivers profound hope, along with an unparalleled reason to celebrate! A spirit of celebration within our gatherings begins with the worship leader, who plans and sets the tone for the entire assembly.
People are drawn to celebrations. A few days ago, thousands upon thousands gathered at Times Square in New York City to celebrate the coming of a new year. We inhibit evangelism when we squelch emotion and stifle joy, choosing instead to “go through the motions” of a fixed check-list, primarily out of duty alone. Celebration, on the other hand, will draw people to our Lord, as well as refresh our hearts like nothing else.
In addition to envisioning the assembly as a celebration, it is my desire to restore the “family atmosphere” of our gatherings. In my opinion, our rigid formalities and strict protocols hamper efforts to create a loving, family-atmosphere. Orchestrated procedures, though helpful, can easily become the dominant focus. People seek a place to belong. Everyone needs relationships. Transparency, testimony and sharing is essential to our development. We are not a cold organization, but rather a living organism. Our assemblies should be marvelous family reunions, overflowing with the love of brothers and sisters.
It breaks my heart to see countless churches regularly host what could be described as anything but a celebration. And when it comes to family atmosphere, most churches become entangled in procedures and process, de-emphasizing the precious body of Christ (knowing that “we” are the body of Christ).
As I dream about Park Plaza’s future (this year we celebrate our 50th anniversary), the two priorities I have chosen (celebration and family reunion) do not constitute an exhaustive list by any means. This is simply my vision of raising the bar for a worship experience that compares with the quality of the preaching. Mitch Wilburn’s passionate sermons are second to none, challenging us through his life and messages toward love and good works. How grateful we should be for our pulpit ministers who serve with commitment and excellence. It is my prayer that worship leaders, beginning with myself, will aspire to lead the assemblies of God’s people with the same preparation and passion of countless preachers of the word.
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Question for Discussion:
Congregations are all different, exhibiting different strengths and weaknesses. If you had to narrow your own “wish list” to only two priorities (for your assemblies), what two would you choose?
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