HERE’S A CONFESSION. I’m probably too simple-minded for my own good.
I sometimes think of worship on Sunday as Show and Tell.
I think of the worship service as the Show.
- Script. In most churches I’ve attended, the worship service is a carefully scripted performance – scheduled down to the last minute. Even the prayers are often scripted.
- Music. You’ve got your musicians performing as best they can after having practiced throughout the week. This performance often includes a soloist during the offering. If you have a praise band led by one vocalist who does most of the singing, you could conceivably call the musical portion of the worship service the Fill-in-the-name-of the-worship-leader Show.
- Advertisers. You’ve got your commercials, with polite people pitching ministry programs and services in three-minute sound bites—a bit like on TV, but without the talking baby.
- Speech. You’ve got your speaker, who – hopefully – has spent many hours preparing the speech. We call it a sermon, but it seems to me that term simply identifies it respectfully as a speech about religious stuff.
Sunday school classes or Bible study classes are what I call the Tell.
That’s because we get to talk back—something usually frowned on during the sermon, unless we’re saying “Amen,” “Preach it,” or “Hallelujah.” Certainly not, “I gave at the office.”
In Bible study classes we get to tell the discussion leader what we think about the matter. And we get to raise questions—something I’d love to do during some sermons.
Talking back in class, of course, assumes that the format is discussion and not just another speech.
In which case Sunday at church would be the Show and Show.
I think everything I’m saying here would sound pretty disturbing to many pastors.
That’s because they tend to think of what happens on Sunday as something far more than a Show.
To which I would agree.
If God’s Spirit shows up and speaks to our spirit, they’re right. It’s more than a Show.
It’s a Hallmark movie.
I mean, come on, doesn’t God’s Spirit nudge us during a Hallmark movie?
If, on the other hand, God’s Spirit doesn’t bother to show up at all, how is Sunday worship not just another Show? “Two and a Half Men,” for example. Spiritually nada.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to dismiss Sunday worship.
It’s often the spiritual highlight of my week.
But it’s not the only place God’s Spirit goes.
I’m not suggesting we have less Show and Tell in church.
I’m suggesting we look for God’s Spirit wherever we go.