So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your
charge, but being examples to the flock.
-- 1 Peter 5:1-3 (ESV)
Beautiful sanctuaries, paved parking lots, and new liturgies will do very little for people who sit in worship with their fingers crossed and do not really believe the faith which is expounded. Often the layman dismisses what the preacher says as something irrelevant to his situation and generation. When he joins a group where he is no longer afraid to be frank, the supposedly faithful member often admits that he has never really accepted what he thinks he has heard. He has, for example, grave reservations about the idea of creation. Did not the world evolve of itself? Do we really need the hypothesis of Infinite Purpose to make sense of the physical, biological, and psychological development? These questions seldom come to the surface when the Church provides merely a one-way preaching. There is little chance of renewal if all that we have is the arrangement by which one speaks and the others listen. One trouble with this conventional system is that the speaker never knows what the unanswered questions are, or what reservations remain in the layman's mentality. ... Elton Trueblood (1900-1994), The Incendiary FellowshipTrueblood and I would likely differ on much. But here he's on to something. Can one approach the preacher in a sense of dialog? It may very well be essential to our faith journey and yet the very way we gather on Sunday may prohibit such a thing. There is a place for quiet contemplation. There is a place for the somber. There is a place for the austere. And this can all happen within worship. But I wonder if we spend too much time "receiving" worship. We listen to the sermon. We listen to the choir. I think that in the process of receiving worship, we think we are to receive God in some way. That if we sit around long enough, God will just show up and we'll call it worship. How do we switch the thinking around, the experience/moment of worship around, and engage it as entering God's presence? We come to God. We approach God. I dunno. What do you all think.