Again, I wanted to take some opportunities to explore a little of the "why" behind some of the changes seen in our worship services over the past several weeks and months. We've tried to explain it as we go but that doesn't mean that everyone caught it or remembers. Plus, the conversations & questions that sparked some of these changes would be good thought-prodders for all of us in all areas of life.
As I mentioned in Part 2, our second worship-service-change was to rethink our "response method". Here's how it used to go: "If you'd like to come down to the altar, you can use the one on the left to pray alone or you can come to the right and the pastor will pray with you." As we examined this tradition under the light of concern for finding the best ways encourage the church to respond and allow God to move in their lives, we ran across several concerns:
- Several of us who had grown up in this same tradition admitted feeling uncomfortable with the whole concept. I will admit to being one of them. Not that I've never gone to an altar but I have rarely felt comfortable doing so because:
- I don't want to be a distraction to someone else.
- I don't want to draw attention to myself.
- I don't want people excessively speculating about what's going on in my life.
- We also wondered how many folks today who have not grown up with a familiarity with this altar tradition might feel. Would it be intimidating to "walk the aisle" down to the altars? Would they have some of the same concerns that many of us that have grown up with it face?
- We've felt for a long time that asking the pastor to be the only person to pray with people is limiting and even unhealthy. Scripture is plain that we are all to lift up and pray for one another!
In response to these concerns:
- We moved the place of response to the back of our worship center so that people might eventually feel more free to respond without many of the concerns listed above.
- We recruited and trained a Response Team full of compassionate people who are equipped to pray with folks. Not only that but we'll now be better equipped to follow-up with people and help encourage them in their journey...not just for a single moment on a Sunday morning. And isn't that kinda what Church is supposed to be about?
We're excited about the changes being made. This is new territory and we don't suspect that we've landed on all the right answers. But we are committed to gradually shaping the culture of our church so we are increasingly a people that EXPECT & DESIRE to SEE & EXPERIENCE God moving in our lives every Sunday.
Why mess with a good thing? To seek the best thing!