Church life can be a drudge! It is possible to get bored, to find ourselves in a routine of just going to stuff, going through the motions, and not really finding it’s challenging us and strengthening us. We can become familiar with what happens week to week, the teaching doesn’t seem to grip us like it used to, the worship gets a bit samey, the spark of freshness seems to have left…
And then you head off to a conference and it seems like everything is alive and new and powerful! The speakers are amazing, the presence of God seems electric and the fellowship is exciting…
As a worship leader one can easily fall into the trap of living from conference to conference. They can seem more appealing than the normal Sunday: there are more people, the people seem more fired up and engaged, and we get to pull out our best songs that everyone at our home church is sick to death of!
But let’s sit back for a moment and ask ourselves what has the potential to make more impact in the local community: our local church or the three day conference that comes and goes? And what is it that Jesus died for, a conference or the church?
It’s easy to feel more spiritually mature at a conference: there’s not much time to sin and the people in your local church that annoy you are lost in the crowd. On top of that the speakers are preaching their best messages and the band is probably better than the band in your local church every Sunday….
Now don’t get me wrong, conferences can really serve the local church. We can be reminded of the mission we’re called to, put in a context with hundreds or even thousands of Christians where we feel like our view of life is not always in the minority. Great speakers can motivate us to get stuck in to our local church and to live the mission every day. They can challenge us and equip us. But let’s not think that they can take the place of the local church… And once the conference is over we must go and live what we’ve heard in the context of our local church.
Church community is where real life happens…
The local church is the prize! Jesus died for His church, His Bride. And that’s not a nebulous group of people roaming the earth! It is communities of people working out what it means to love God, love each other, and love those who don’t know God yet, inevery day life. It means carrying one another’s burdens, working out our disagreements in love, and partnering together in touching others’ lives.
It’s a beautiful thing, this community! Sure it get’s messy, it’s full of real people. But real people engaging with God, learning to serve one another, and displaying Christ’s self-sacrificial heart to the community is a beautiful thing!
Over these past years I have sought to make the local church my prize. As a worship leader that means I’m most excited about developing the church’s ‘worship life’ to be centred on Christ, deep with a love for who He is and what He’s done, full of truth and empowered by the Spirit. I want to be consistently leading the church to Christ, to the cross, making space for the Spirit’s work and leading. It’s not just about this Sunday’s set list, it’s about meeting God together week after week after week.
One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received was when a guest worship leader told me that he had so enjoyed leading our church in worship because our people loved to meet God and loved to worship – “it was easy to lead them because they were so expectant of encountering God and passionate in expressing their worship”, he said. Now that’s a prize!
The church is at the centre of history
At the end of the age, when the ‘heavenly’ history books are written, the thread of history will not follow the great kings and earthly leaders, the great wars and conquests, or world events. It will follow the thread of God’s purposes: His winning of a people, His church! His church is His passion, it’s what He died to redeem. Not simply individuals, but a People.
And this is what we long to see here in Vancouver: a church community with a very high view of the local church. A community which understands the priority that Jesus places on His church.
Church life should not be a series of meetings that we attend, sermons that we critique, worship that we spectate. Church is a community to be loved, served and committed to. If church feels like a drudge to me it could be that I’ve moved from being a family member to consumer.