The church has developed a service rather than offering a Presence.
Today’s church services are so predictable and scripted, you might even say full of ceremony and ritual. Every church has a liturgy, a prescribed form of worship, it just so happens that some are more saturated with weightier content (usually the more historic church as opposed to the contemporary service). It is the difference between steak and popcorn.
We offer loud music so that God can hear ourselves, not so we can hear God. We use artificial lights & sounds not as artistry or architecture, but to try to convince ourselves that we are experiencing divinity. We have light shows to back up our worship so we can have an artificial celebration of the glory of his presence because we rarely do anything worthwhile to actually warrant his appearance or presence.
Roxanne Brandt wrote in the early 80′s that most church services are such well oiled machines that it would take some churches 20 years before they realized the Holy Spirit had vacated the premises and the production. We offer every thing accept the only thing they can’t get anywhere else…a LIVING PRESENCE.
We are the LIVING sacrifices, offering spiritual sacrifices, and yet most of what we do and have offered for years and possibly decades has little to no LIVING presence. Yet the show must go on. Honestly our productions are nothing compared to Broadway or Hollywood, they outdo us every time by 100′s of thousands and millions of dollars. There is a new church plant just down the road and their “Roadies” spend two hours every Sunday just setting up their stage…presence. Really? How many people do you have staging for his Presence? Who are you trying to reach God or Man?
I know you have built a Frankenstein and you can’t control him or you’ll lose the crowd so you continue to feed him with more. We don’t have to fear the Beast because we built him. So we keep the crowd, but we lose the Christ. I know we still freshen up his makeup every Easter and Christmas with some dramatic presentation so that it looks like he is still here, but those “20 years” are long gone and it is time we come out of our denial and realize that maybe God has left the building.
I feel the pressure mounting every day and every week to build a bigger and better program than your church, but I can’t and with God’s help I wont. Whatever you bring people in on is what you have to keep them on…which means costume changes for the church facade and that costs money which is where most of the money for the furtherance of the gospel goes, it goes to new set decorations to keep the crowd coming and to cover up the fact that he may be MIA, but we are trying to keep our shame hidden.
Yes an authentic presence of the Living God costs us and will sacrifice us on the altar, but it is the only thing that we have to offer them that they CANNOT get anywhere else.