Thursday, November 19, 2015
The Experience is the Experience
What is the most important thing about church? That could be debated but i'd say there are probably a couple different camps and probably all of them right. It hit me yesterday as I was talking to a Pastor friend who is on staff at an amazing multi-site church in DFW. We can get a church service or preaching almost anywhere at any time but what experience is the best experience? I mean, I want the best experience.
1. Spiritual growth. (ie Preparation for daily life, service or ministry. Sometimes in the lack of this poeple can be heard saying....Im just not being fed).
2. Reach the lost (ie evangelism, outreach)
3. Connecting with God (nebulous, I know, add your own).
These are all right. They are not completely right because the are not exclusive of each other. They are all right because they are but they also need the other. Ill attempt cohesion by calling the collective, the experience.
What is your experience? You tell me. If you want to go to church and hear a choir, how was your experience? Were they good? Did they lead you in worship? Did you sing in the choir? Did the church have a choir? Was the worship time your preference? Did they sing the songs you like? Did they sing enough or too little? Where there instruments you like to worship to represented on stage? Did they serve communion and they have a good kids program did they have pleasant looking and smelling ushers?
Experiences are relative and that is one of the reasons we have so many different expressions of churches. And the reason most people drive by a dozen churches before they get to the one that they prefer because it provides their experience of choice. Not a problem… Let's face it, we all want to worship with people that we want to worship with.*
You can watch church services in your pajamas...Is that your experience?
You can listen to a podcast during your morning commute...Is that your experience?
You can listen to church, return email, eat and monitor your kids homework at the same time...Is that your experience?
I'll admit, i've done all the above and probably will again. This experience cant be my whole experience, but at times it'll have to do.
Life gives us back what we put into it. If we want a fuller, richer and maybe more beneficial experience we need to get up, get dressed, drive, walk, sit and connect with others. We just do.
To borrow a term from the hotel industry, if I want a "full service" church experience, i can have one, it just takes getting to the location that offers one.
I can experience life in the church parking lot.
I can see other people rushing last minute, as I do to get a good seat before the worship starts.
I can meet my kids class teachers.
I can find where the donuts and coffee are hidden.
I can meet someone cool and interesting who may sit beside me.
I can get a free lunch offer (if the person sitting next to me is generous. Maybe I should be that person).
I can worship in community like the early church.
I can drop an offering in the plate.
I can meet others just like me.
I can have a better experience.
The experience is the experience.
* Here is the cool thing and I don't think God even cares. We all get to choose who we want to worship with. It could be based on looks, building worship style socioeconomic, education the preacher that we like or anything.