Service in a Worship Service?

In April, I visited friends and family in Abilene. I found out that our friends’ church is planning something called “You are the Sermon.”  Instead of having a regular worship service, they are doing service in the community.  And that got me to thinking…why can’t my church do something like this?  Why isn’t this what we do all the time?

First of all, I need to do a bit of language analysis.  Why do we even call what we do on Sunday mornings a worship service?  Who exactly is being served?  I sometimes feel like we are the consumers, taking in God in little cracker-sized pieces (no disrespect to the Lord’s Supper).  I know that I have frequently acted like someone in an audience, letting “worship” wash over me.  Many times I go to the church building so I can get something out of it, but I really think our idea of what we do at church should be different.

So, why don’t we do actual service to others during our worship service?  There are those who would say a Wednesday night or even a Sunday night is a more appropriate time for that kind of thing.  It is a good thing, to do service, but that’s just not what we do Sunday morning.  Sunday morning is for worship.  But can’t service be worship to God, maybe even the best kind of worship to God: obedience and loving others?  He desires obedience and practical love, not hymns (though I think praising God in song is a great, good thing).

We could start out small – not even venturing out from the building — at first.  Everyone could write a note to a kid at the Village of Hope.  It would take about 10 minutes of our worship service.  Maybe we could do something once a month, helping 12 organizations or 12 current projects of our church — during service, when all of us are gathered.  Just imagine how powerful it would be if we all committed to doing something for others, together, on the day we have set aside for worship.

It would be a big undertaking and I couldn’t do it alone, but I think we would all be blessed by service in our worship service or even instead of our worship service.

My church has recently begun the process of dreaming about what kind of church we want to be and what we want to do.  I’m encouraged that something along the lines of what I am mentioning here is also on the hearts of others in my church.

What do you think? Has anyone else ever done this in their church?

I’ve made it about me

Nursing affords me a lot of time to read, and frequently what I read are blogs.  One blog I’ve been introduced to has really got me thinking about how I bring the Kingdom of God to others, especially this one about interacting with the poor.

Right now, my audience for the Kingdom of God is one.

My one

I show him love with frequent diaper changes, long nursing sessions, and silly faces.  Some days, my audience of one is enough, but then I realize there is a whole world out there – full of somebody else’s “one.”

Taking care of Henry, Ted, and my house is good, but I know that this insular existence is not what God has in mind for me.  He wants me to reach out and be kind, be friends with people unlike me.

And that is where it stops for me – the knowing, but not the doing.  I am fortunate to live in a diverse neighborhood, a neighborhood we chose because we could get to know people who live much differently than we do.  But here we are, 6 months later, and we’ve only met the affluent couple who own their house (they are very nice).  I don’t know anyone in either of the apartment complexes across the street.  Now, you might say, “Give yourself a break!  You just had a baby.  You’ve been adjusting.”  Well, I am still adjusting and will always be adjusting, so I don’t think that is a good excuse any more.

I just don’t know where to start.

For a while, I searched online to find places where I can use my gifts conveniently with the plus one of a baby.  But after reading Jessica’s blog, I’ve realized that I need to cultivate a life of “interruptibility.”  A life made vulnerable to new relationships and the needs of those people, not something I was necessarily planning to give.

Yet, I sometimes hope I can join a very organized, very regimented effort to help others.  Something that can be done on the first Saturday of the month that doesn’t require much of my time or cause me any heartache.  Something that still keeps me separate from others, safe in my little world where my biggest concern is laundry.  Something that doesn’t require me to involve my heart in the lives of others.  I like things planned and organized, something to make me feel like I’m doing something to help others.  And I think that’s the problem.  I don’t really want to help the poor.  I want to feel like I am.

Believe me, I was very disturbed to learn that this is the truth.  But it is. True.  My desire to help the poor is about me and not them.  It is about “should do” and not “want to do.”  It is about pride and not love.

So, how do I make it about love?

For me, making a relationship with someone, being kind to them, being their friend and allowing them to be mine is probably the best way to make it not about me.  But then, my introverted little self thinks, “I can’t just go talk to someone and introduce myself into their lives.” And I hear a whisper from God, saying, “Exactly.  You can’t do that, but I can.”

I’m still afraid and have no plan.  But maybe that’s exactly as it should be.

List # 4 Sunday Morning Rituals

  1. Waking up to the early alarm and deciding, in bed, will it be early or late service?
  2. Listening to my Fave Church Music playlist
  3. Dancing to my favorite song of the bunch, “Christ is Risen,” by Matt Maher
  4. Both of us asking each other if we’ve written the check for that week’s contribution (it takes both of us to remember)
  5. Barely getting out of the house on time
  6. Listening to the Peter Gunn theme on our way to church in the car
  7. One of us exclaiming, “We’re on a mission from God” in an awful Chicago/Dan Akroyd accent
  8. Listening to “Soul Man”
  9. Then “She Caught the Katy”
  10. Thinking about when one of our future children rides to church with another family after a sleepover and asks, “Why don’t you guys listen to Peter Gunn on the way to church?”
  11. Walking to the very front, even though we’re always at least 5 minutes late, cause that’s just how we roll.