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Friday, September 27, 2013

"Unplugged" Worship

“Be Prepared” is not only the Boy Scouts’ motto, it is a necessity for those who lead worship. Recently, the air conditioning system went out at our church sanctuary on a Saturday causing a rapid change of venue. Tracks, lighting, video, mics, were all ready for use in the sanctuary, however the AC issue caused us to call in a “Plan B,” which was go to our Fellowship Hall. Now with only two microphones and a older piano. All my planning was envisioned in another place with greater facilities, and now had to be thrown out as the last minute. Our congregation graciously accepted the change and we had a meaningful time of worship, However, the incident did make the wheels of my mind begin to spin. What do I really need in order to worship?

What if the electricity had gone out, what would we have done?  The Sanctuary has side doors, but no windows, so a lack of breeze would be an issue. We could use the piano, maybe an acoustic guitar, but no organ, electric guitar, lighting, air conditioning, or projection screens. Without proper lighting even hymnals would be questionable.  If you were to go bare bones, with just your hearts and voices what changes would you have make? It is easy for our security to become trapped by the all the non-essentials. Perhaps we’ve become so dependent on a wall of sound that for some musical worship  would be difficult, if not impossible.

No, I’m not about to suggest that we return to the caves and push to renounce every modern convenience. Years of serving overseas as a missionary provided plenty of experiences of bare-boned worship that was meaningful [and some that was not]. Now, living in south Louisiana in the heat and humidity without air conditioning would not be pleasant and most likely would demand that we move our time of worship to a time of the day when the weather would be less oppressive. However, I would like for us to think about worshiping “un-plugged” for just a moment.

By “Unplugged Worship,” I mean, worshiping God without all the technology that has facilitated and complicated our time together as the Body of Christ.  The music in worship services in England after the Reformation was reduced to the singing of the Psalms in unison, that is, just melody, no harmony. Light was provided by windows, sound by the acoustics of the room and the strength of human voice. [The simplicity is tempting, yet I know how important good accompaniment is to supporting congregational singing.]

The question is this: What if our churches had to worship “unplugged” for a month? A year? Would we see the attendance increase or decrease? Would those that seek to be entertained lose interest and go somewhere else or no where at all? Would we be able to worship without the “extras” that have become so much a part of what we do? Is it just enough to gather as the Body of Christ and center our hearts and focus on Him, whether or not we are even able to sing or not? Is Jesus alone enough? 

If there is something we have to have besides God’s Word and Holy Spirit in our lives as we gather and focus on God, then have we made that object or thing an “idol” that separates us from  worship? 

Perhaps we need to “unplug” every now and then and see what are those things on which we are really depending for worship individually and corporately.  Just some thoughts....

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