I don’t know how to go to a church service anymore.
I spent a lot of time during the 1990’s writing and occasionally producing skits for church services, as well as a few full-length plays. These bits of spiritual theater were once known as “chancel dramas”. With the advent of the seeker service, they became a way for service producers to highlight conflict, questions and spiritual awakening in story form. My writing eventually led to producing church services for a mid-sized non-denominational congregation, then daily chapel services at a college and seminary.
I learned during those years that services needed to both excellent and authentic, but it was a delicate balance between the two. When authenticity was the driver, awkwardness often ensued in the form of off-key worship leaders, overhead slides that never transitioned on time, and clumsy transitions from one part of the service to the next. When excellence dominated, a cool, controlled performance, timed down to the minute, resulted in the congregation becoming a passive audience at a religious show.
During those years, I was a part of teams who attempted to plan services with excellence, down to the minute. Certainly there was plenty of prayer and good intention behind these acts. Those with whom I worked had a desire to move the gathered people toward God, toward some kind of meaningful connection with one another, and toward release into mission as they headed out into the world. All that planning, strategizing and debriefing with a heavy focus on excellence while seeking authenticity in our expression – has nearly drained me of the ability to simply participate in a corporate worship service. I can’t turn off my internal church service analyzer. [Read more at the Jesus Creed blog]