Just about everyone gets emotionally charged up about ‘style’ in our discussions of worship, especially when discussing the possibility of going to multiple services, each with a different style. After almost ten years of having these discussions, I really can’t get too fired up about questions of style…I freely admit that style is a matter of preference, and so long as a congregation’s worship is biblical in its content, reverent in its approach, and excellent in its praxis, I have no patent objections to any particular style. But I’m not surprised that people get so excited about style…
What surprises and saddens me, present context included, is that no one ever seems to seriously discuss unity and the implications a move to multiple services will have on unity. One of Jesus’ major emphases in the days immediately preceding his crucifixion was unity among believers, especially in the Gospel of John. Unity is a big deal to Christ, but why not for us? Oh sure, we give some lip service to the subject, but beyond saying something clever about showing intentionality in scheduling church-wide events we pay it little attention. All this talk of ‘intentionality’ quickly fades after the split is made, and folks typically resort to disparaging remarks questioning the absence of the ‘contemporary service folks.’ A better use of our discussion time would be how we can get sincere commitment from the younger folks that leads them to serve Christ and others instead of merely seeking a ‘worship fix’ in a hip Sunday morning service and not returning or participating in anything for another seven days.
We talk about the congregation as ‘family,’ but what family deliberately schedules its major activities so that its members are always scattered to the four winds? It sounds silly, doesn’t it, but splitting services is essentially the same thing as intentionally splitting up a family and determining to pretend that they won’t end up dysfunctional. We’ll put on our Evangelical veneer, pretend that “Every Day With Jesus is Sweeter than the Day Before,” and politely ignore the two separate congregations that merely cohabitate under the same roof but share little else in common.
Our Savior prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17.11 ESV). We would do well to seriously petition our Holy Father to create unity within our congregations before haphazardly splitting our family into pieces for the sake of church growth.
Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison; Kyrie eleison.
Κύριε ἐλέησον, Χριστὲ ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον.
Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy.