We visited a new church today and Jesus was there. Thank God.
This is what I liked about it:
First, I like the denomination’s motto:
“In essentials… unity. In non-essentials… liberty. In all things… charity.”
I hope that means that Jesus isn’t in a straightjacket there. I hope it means the doctrine isn’t so locked-down, iron-clad and air-tight that the Holy Spirit has no room to breathe; no room to move.
I like that while we were standing in the lobby drinking coffee before the service an elder came over, introduced himself, asked us some questions and welcomed us to the church.
I liked that when that same elder prayed at the beginning of the service, he prayed for some of the specific needs of the individuals in the congregation (without naming names). In other words, I liked that the church was small enough that its leaders actually know who their congregants are and the things with which they are struggling.
I liked that the worship was simple and sincere. The words of the songs were on slides that had Jesus as the background, not moving geometric neon shapes. The hub liked that there was no smoke and the amplifiers weren’t turned up to 8. Maybe we’re just old. I actually don’t mind loud, but I much prefer unpolished, heartfelt worship to a professionally produced production.
I liked that the worship leader sang a NEEDTOBREATHE song during the offering and got choked up as he introduced it. He sang it from his heart an he did an excellent job.
My daughter and I are both NEEDTOBREATHE fans. We have seen them in concert several times together. My favorite time was a completely unplugged impromptu show that we had the privilege of attending. I love acoustic performances because they allow the lyrics to shine.
The song fit the message very well. Here’s a bit of what Bear Rinehart said about it in an interview:
“This song is my story of trying to understand my role in God’s plan. We were on tour with a secular artist, Taylor Swift, playing to 20,000 and even 50,000 people per night. We felt like we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. Despite our efforts, I didn’t feel like we were having the impact we are called to have.
I think God was asking us at this time, “What are you doing this for? Are you doing it for Me?” And, I think that’s where this song was birthed. That confusion is almost a good thing. The bridge says “I am on the fence about nearly everything I’ve seen.” I meant that in how the whole band was going through a “we surrender to God” kind of way.
We don’t need to be concerned about what happens after we’ve given up this gift we have to God. That was really powerful for us. We had ambition and let that take too much of a priority in things that led us down a road that wasn’t good. I think that in trying to re-prioritize, God wants us to sacrifice those things, those idols in our lives. Some idols for us were wondering what the outcome was going to be, that we had the upper hand or maybe we were the best band out there, or we thought we were the most clever at it.
I feel like the beginning of the song is us asking ourselves are we really difference makers. How valuable are we, really? Towards the end of the song it comes around that God makes us a part of what He does, which is so crazy. It starts with us realizing that we don’t get to make the rules. We don’t control it, and we don’t get to say what the timing is. It’s not because of our talents. He doesn’t need that. He needs our willing hearts.”
You can read the full article here.
There’s a short “behind the story” clip here.
And here’s the song’s official video:
And that brings me to the last thing I liked about the service. The pastor concluded by saying that we need to change our paradigm from thinking that our relationship with God is all about us to seeing His greater purposes and how we might fit in. Then he added, “For those of you who are already operating out of that paradigm, I encourage you to continue to do so. And then he gave examples of some of the ways various people in the congregation have entered into God’s purposes and are impacting the community.
AND THAT’S IT!
That’s what I have been longing for. A simple balance. A simple acknowledgement of growth; of maturing Christian hearts. But that takes knowing something about the hearts and lives of the people you serve. It’s much easier to just say, “We’re all a bunch of selfish sinners who are only looking at what’s in it for us” and call it a day.
I want to be inspired. I want to be spurred on toward love and good deeds by seeing and hearing about the good deeds others are doing and perhaps joining in. I don’t want to be browbeaten.