Friday, February 03, 2006

New Building... New Worship?

Disclaimer: The following post does not necessarily represent the views of any of the elders, ministers, or other people at Otter Creek. Even though I am a paid employee of the church, I am speaking as a grunt, a layperson.

Sunday is the last day for the Otter Creek Church of Christ in the current building that we've been in for the last 55 years, that my great-grandfather was the first preacher in, that my dad grew up in, that I was baptized in, that I was married in, that my daughter was dedicated in. And while I'm sad to lose the physical place of those memories, I'm excited about the new building and the possiblities that come out of that.

I'm also a little apprehensive. One of the possibilities that come out this move is a much larger facility and more techy toys to play with. Are these inherently bad things? No. However, how they get used is where the rubber meets that road. I worry that this move will make us change our worship in such a way that will make it more attractive to non Christians, simply to be attractive to non Christians. To make it slickly produced. To make it high end. And to me the attractional model of worship can lead, doesn't always, but can lead to an environment where the focus is put on the people worshipping rather than the God being worshipped.

Now, I'll be honest. I don't mind a well-produced worship experience. I've helped produce some (whether they were well produced is for someone else to decide). However, I do have this fear that if every one of our worship services become big production the focus is going to become on the events themselves. That's one of the reasons Shaun Grove's Event Driven Church post from a couple of weeks ago resonated with me so strongly.

I want Otter Creek to be an attractive place for people to come. I want people to feel warmth and comfort there, and to be challenged to live lives for Jesus. Is having a "well-produced worship experience" mutually exclusive with this? Maybe not. In fact, probably not. But we have to have guards on our hearts and mindsets constantly.

What this means is that I will have to trust my ministers and elders. I'll have to trust my friends Tim and Brandon and Doug and Scott to find the balance. Will they always get it right? No, no more than I do and will. I do hope that we don't get too caught up in a new place and realize that the building is simply a tool for serving God and serving people. It's as much a shell for the body of Christ as the Granny White Building is.

btw, thanks for everyone that listened into the podcast. We're planning on doing another one next week and seeing how things go from there. If there's a specific topic you'd like to hear discussed or have a thought about it, please leave a comment either here or on the podcast page.


Adam said...

I understand your apprehension about this. There is a huge danger in becoming too slick and overhyped. It is, however, a good problem to have. It shows that you are streaching and growing. It almost seems like the kinds of issues that the Corinthian church was dealing with. Problems like these are signs of life.

Kat Coble said...

I know this is a stupid question, but does OC use musical instruments in its worship?

My grandfather was CoC in Northern Indiana. They always had a piano, but since moving here I've been told that CoC disavows instruments in the service. So I'm always curious.

Anyway, I fully understand what you mean about the new building.

do hope that we don't get too caught up in a new place and realize that the building is simply a tool for serving God and serving people. It's as much a shell for the body of Christ as the Granny White Building is.

I would trust that just as God has provided the building, He will continue to provide the right Spirit as long as that is Who you are seeking.

Phil said...

Not a stupid question at all, Katherine.

No we don't, on Sunday mornings. There's a lot that goes into that decision, but one of the big things is maintaining our tradition within the Church of Christ.

However, we do use instruments at other times. We do musicals, have concerts, and our Wednesday night service is a contemplative one that we use instruments for.

Thanks for the thoughts. I'm probably being TOO cynical and worried about all of this, but I don't want us to become a cold, uninviting megachurch. Personally, I don't want to go to a megachurch.

Justin said...

I think the conditions at the building on granny white helped maintain that sort of intimacy even despite having 800 people at church. I won't lie saying I am scared its not gonna be quite the same at the new building. I do have faith though, faith in the people at oc continuing to strive to be a welcoming body, an engaged body. Its what drew me there, and while i think the building helped, I think the people are what made it so intimate and engaged.

Malia said...

"well-produced worship experience"


Those are the only words that I can come up with to describe how that phrase makes me feel.

Phil said...

I can certainly agree with that in a lot of ways Malia. But I would argue that yesterday's service was "well produced;" which can simply mean that all the right people were in the right places and there were no major sound or PPT issues.

It's when it means something much bigger than that that I start getting apprehensive.

Tony Arnold said...

I have been thinking about this post for days. I finally have something concrete to say. Reflecting on many worship and non-worship auditorium type situations, I have boiled down the ones that were meaningful for me to three key ingredients:

1. Participation: I must be an active participant not just an observer. And that responsibility lies both with me as well as the event leaders. Active includes seemingly passive behaviors such as listening prayer and meditation.

2. Emotion: I have to be stirred emotionally or moved to some positive action. Ex: in a worship context those could be confession, prayer, praise, or service activity ). I believe the Holy Spirit is a critical ingredient. I believe the Holy Spirit is present at OC worship periods and the Holy Spirit must be requested and prayed for by those leading during the preparation and planning periods.

3. Fellowship: there must be an fellowship aspect to the event. This fellowship does not have to be during the event itself, but has to be a least a supplemental part of the process. EX: small break out sessions, mingling before or after, smaller class sessions, life-groups. Without a supporting fellowship process, #1 and #2 will be difficult to achieve on a regular basis.

I am not saying these three items have to happen every time for everyone, because they won't happen everytime for everyone. But they should be the norm for everyone. I feel confident in saying we can look back at OC and say that these three ingredients were the norm. If we can keep that we will be fine regardless of the form.


Suzie said...

I didn't realize how far back your history with Otter Creek went. What an overwhelming move! What's happening with the former building?

Tell Sheryl I said "hello".

Phil said...

Hey there Suzi! Good to hear from you.

The old building is going to be rented by the Living Word Community Church while they search for a permenant solution. We'll sell the land after they get their building situation in place.

Sheryl told me to tell you Hi back.

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