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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2010 Lenten Study 4

The Purpose Driven Church

Jesus attracted crowds to Him, those who were hungry for the spiritual words of life. Author Rick Warren in part four spells out the way to bring in a crowd. In a previous section, we learned the crowd is comprised of unchurched folks who would not understand the complexities of a worship service. How we approach these unchurched, those who are "seekers," will have a direct result on the numbers that attend.

In chapter 13, Warren lays out 12 convictions about worship. Consider St. James when you read these. At St. James, are we in agreement with Warren about the 12 convictions about worship? A secondary question. If so, how will be apply them?


  1. 1. Most of us agreed only believers can truly worship God, though some had a bit of trouble with "truly". Who can judge what is true worship? One person even wondered whether sometimes acts of worship might happen almost unconsciously and therefore be impossible to evaluate. We had no problem with the definition of worship as “expressing our love for God,” and if true worship is a conscious act, then certainly only true believers can do it.
    2. We agreed you don’t need a building for worship, but then talked about Warren’s detailed description of the importance of environment for attracting seekers. We thought some of his ideas (glass not wood, light bright colours not shadows, etc.) were his own tastes and we did not think them universally applicable. Some points (cleanliness, comfort, etc.) seemed important and we would agree they would help encourage seekers and believers to worship.
    3. We agreed there is no correct style for worship. We have talked of this often.
    4. & 5. We talked about unbelievers watching believers worship together with the idea that this worship is a powerful witness. We were not sure about this. Some felt that watching might be an encouragement, while others questioned its usefulness. Perhaps this depends on how people respond to crowds, a character trait that differs from person to person. Some of us did not think this a very important kind of evangelism. Others could see it better, stressing the concept that worship can indeed make God’s presence felt.
    6. There was a lively discussion about what being sensitive to the needs and fears of unbelievers involves. Someone said this must NOT mean changing our deeply felt worship practices in order to make them more attractive to outsiders. Others felt that being sensitive might well involve making such changes, but only for the specific seeker service. We loved the translation of 1 Cor. 14:23 quoted, especially the last few words about unbelievers possibly feeling “you are out of your mind”. We felt this meant that sensitivity means making worship comprehensible, and very much agreed with that.
    7. We agreed that being seeker-sensitive was not being shallow, but understandable.
    8. We agreed that the needs of believers and unbelievers often overlap. We loved the list on page 245: it seemed to sum up the needs we all experience and hope to find partial answers for in the church.
    9. We agreed that services need to be specialized as to purpose.
    10. We agreed a seeker service is not a substitute for personal evangelism or mission.
    11. We agreed there is no standard way to design a seeker service.
    12. We strongly agreed it takes unselfish, mature believers to offer a seeker-sensitive service, and hoped we could find these qualities in ourselves!

    How do we apply these principles? By designing seeker services. The major issues we covered were the following:

    a. The importance of music: We thought that the book is much too restrictive in its description of the kinds of music that should be used, and in its insistence that there should be music throughout the service. We felt well-explained silences often work very well for people. However, we agreed that, in setting up a seeker service, the tastes of those “targeted” should be considered. There was a lively discussion about using pre-recorded music, such as the MIDI band. Many felt this did not allow for genuine involvement of and response to those attending. We agreed that the music must be chosen carefully to fit together, and to suit language and tone of the worship service. There needs to be an overall plan.
    b. The difficulty of finding worship readers/leaders representative of the “target” group: If we are lacking young people for instance, where are the leaders for the service?
    c. We were able to imagine a very good seeker service that could be directed not only to young people, but also to the adult attendees of Happy Mike’s, since the musical tastes are very close and this particular group of young people and adults are comfortable together.

  2. Interesting comments about "true" worship. Warren may be using this term as it directly ties to faith in Jesus. A believer, obviously, is one who has come to know Jesus and accept Him as Lord and Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. It's something more to consider when we renew our baptismal vows at Easter. These are not just words we repeat.

    2. Good points about buildings and Warren's own view. A building need not be a deterrent. Our people are cozy in the building. Now, we need to look at our space from an outsider's perspective and do what we can to improve it even more.

    3. Ditto... This is a great attitude, as it will help us to remain open to new forms and styles of worship.

    4&5. Interesting comments. I think Warren's focus is on the attraction of crowds or visitors to the church. These are folks who may not have ever stepped in the doorway of a church, who simply are curious and want to find out more. This is where the "observing" comes in. After observing a few times, an observer may be moved to participation.

    6. Good discussion here. A seeker sensitive service is not going to be the same as a regular Sunday service, where edification is key and the church's regular routines are followed. Instead, we may be looking at an earlier time for worship or another day altogether.

    7. You are quite right on this point. Warren is helping us to understand the unchurched, the target, "Saddleback Sam" if you will. What would St. James John or St. James Jane look like?

    8. Indeed, this is why the church is relevant to the world. Our Gospel is one of Good News and our God loves us all unconditionally. Hope, healing, abundant love are commodities we know something of and need to remind folks of week by week.

    9. I look forward to the discussion on the types of service we may offer. You can have as many as you need with any number of ways to develop them. Our Worship Committee and our Program and Planning Committee will look into this.

    10. Indeed it is not. Personal evangelism comes as a direct result of your developing relationship with the One who knows us, Jesus. We are His followers, His children. Deeper prayer and study and worship will lead us to deeper mission and evangelism.

    11. This is indeed correct, so we have all kinds of leeway to create. There are many great creative minds at St. James. I look forward to gleaning those ideas, to taking some risks, to stepping out and to reaching out in unique ways. We need to simply get down to it and be creative. I look forward to sharing my ideas.

    12. I appreciate the honesty here. I believe we have many who are mature and confident. These same folks will inspire others as they bring them along to help. Our confidence in this area will grow as we take risks and step out in faith. Of course, education along the way will be key, so folks gain more and more confidence.

    a. Music is certainly key, depending on the "target" we choose. For example, the young people are gearing up for "contemporary" worship and are learning what that means for them. Sometimes, this means "loud," with drums, electric guitars, bass guitars, trumpet, etc. If we don't have that type of leadership in the congregation, we may have to budget for it.

    b. A small honorarium might bring the young who play the instruments. Along with the young come the young. As they develop what they want, others hear and are attracted.

    c. This is an important next step, the involvement of some of those who come to Happy Mike's in a service of some kind. We know the musicians themselves might, as they have in past. However, once all of our renovations are complete, we may host Happy Mike's in the church proper. This will give folks a sense of what our worship space is like. Keep up the good work. There is much here that contributes to future direction in our parish life. Blessings all!