I have a confession to make.
I don't always want to go to church on Sunday.
Sometimes, (shh, don't tell anyone).... church seems pointless.
There I said it. My lack of enthusiasm for worship arrived about the same time as my first child. This is probably not a coincidence. Children bring distractions to a worship experience: taking someone to the potty, finding a tissue for a runny nose, and the recurrent need to utter admonitions such as "share your colors" and "quit kicking your sister." This can make it difficult to focus. But even when the children are little angels, I struggle finding a sense of purpose in worship. We've had more than one pastor in that time and done several different liturgies so the problem is not something as obvious as that. The steady decline of mainline denominations tells us that I am not alone in my apathy. I read an article this week about this trend and about worship. In this Word and World article, Preaching 2.0, David Lose reflects upon technology and the trend of the internet towards being more interactive. He suggests that worship might do well to become more interactive too. He suggests that worship become an opportunity to practice finding connections between our lives and our faith rather than passively receiving the connections the preacher makes for us.
Professor Lose suggests getting people involved in the creation of the sermon. Imagine: people in conversation with pastors about the next Sunday's scriptures through emails, blogs, by phone, in person having direct input into what they will experience the following Sunday. Some who have the desire or gift might even speak` as part of the sermon. Sure, there is potential for conflict. What you say may not necessarily be what I hear, I might not agree, etc. But wouldn't it be refreshing to be arguing about theology rather than the color of the sanctuary carpet?
I was intrigued by Professor Lose's ideas. I often get more out of worship when I am leading it than when I am sitting in the pew. This may be in part due to fewer distractions when sitting up front, just me and the acolyte. But, I think it is also helpful to be actively participating in worship. When I lead worship, I have invested time and thought and prayer in preparation for worship. I have a chance to have a voice, to say something about my faith and to dream that I might impact the lives of others. There is a sense of purpose.
I would like to conduct an experiment. I am preaching Sunday July 3rd and I would like your help.
When I am asked to preside over funerals it is often an honor and a blessing to weave the life story of the deceased together with the story of God. I propose to do a similar thing with this experiment: I would like to hear from you about the gospel passage for this Sunday. The scripture I am focusing on for this week is Matthew 11:16-30. What stories does it bring to mind? What moves your heart? What perplexes you? What do you think it means? I will take the feedback that you give me and weave it together in a way that tells the story of God at work in the world and the truth of God's love for us. Hopefully, this will turn into a sermon worth posting here for you to read. Undoubtedly your wisdom will enrich the sermon I preach for a nearby congregation on Sunday. Share your thoughts here, on Facebook, or email me or give me a call. Please help me out. Then check back to see the fruit of your input next week. I promise to give it much thought and prayer. You may simply want to share with me what makes you feel "weary"and what are your "heavy burdens". I hope you will consider exploring the gospel passage more fully. Any input you can share will be greatly appreciated. Let me know, too, how this feels to you. Is it meaningful to you to have a chance to share your thoughts? I suppose those who read my blog are not necessarily your typical congregation, so that may be a flaw in my experiment. But perhaps that very fact will lend a greater diversity of ideas and opinions.
If you need some help getting your wheels turning, a website I like to use for inspiration and information is workingpreacher.org. After all, the point of this experiment is that we all become "working preachers" exploring scriptures and sharing what we find for our mutual spiritual nourishment.
Let's try it out. You have your assignment!
And, if you time it very carefully, (during nap time, after the children are in bed, etc.) even you moms may be able to participate without being interrupted to take someone to the potty.