Sunday, July 01, 2007

Jim, Casper and St. Benedict Go to Church

Benedict left the life of Roman society, where he had been born to wealth and privilege, to please the Lord. He tried to live a solitary life, but as others came to be taught by him, we might say “discipled by him” he established thirteen monasteries over which he became abbot. He gave to these a book of rules, now called Benedict’s Rule, which established a routine of prayer and the reading of the Psalms. Benedict’s Rule is became the guiding rule for monasteries across Europe. It is believed that Benedict died in 547. No one has ever found fog machines mentioned in Benedict’s rule.

Randall Holm is a professor of Biblical studies at Providence College in Winnipeg. He writes in a recent issue of TESTIMONY, the magazine of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, that he went to visit an Anglican Church in Winnipeg called St. Benedict’s Table. He notes, from their website, that they describe themselves as “first and foremost a Eucharistic worshipping community that is rooted in the ancient future.” Holm describes the service, rooted in audible reading of Scripture, minimal instrumentation for singing, singing songs that seem “calm and quiet the soul,” silence, and of course the Eucharist. He says: “I confess, I walked away from St. Benedict’s table refreshed. I experienced what the Taize community describes as a “holy stop, a sabbatical rest, a truce of worries.”

One of the things lost in the current discussion about church, seekers, worship, is that from the beginning Willow Creek drew a distinction between the worship service and the seeker service. The concept was that Christians would surrender their “right” to worship on Sunday and instead worship mid-week, so that seekers could come on Sunday for a meeting geared to share the gospel with them, but which was not a worship service.

Willow faithfully followed this philosophy and reaped great results. But, few other churches truly followed them in a pure way. So, the Sunday service in most churches became “seeker” which meant a worship service that is not really a worship service, but which is, on the other hand, still a worship service. The results have been mixed. Mixed because what happened too often was that the elements of worship went out the window so that seekers might find a comfort zone.

Is this part of the problem that is creating Barna’s Revolution? That is really hard for me to make a comment on. But, in reading Jim & Casper go to Church I think that it has contributed to the problem. Christians who have grown up in the stripped down worship service find that, in spite of music that is on the edge, and technology that has a wow factor, their souls have not come to a holy stop.

To be honest, I have to say, I don’t think they came to a holy stop in the average evangelical service in the sixties or early seventies either. That is why the Boomers jumped at contemporary music with its streams from African-American worship, Pentecostalism, rock, and folk and probably some other streams as well. And, it has and remains good.

But I hear from Jim and Casper and many others that something is missing, and so missing that they are just simply quitting church.

So, we had better figure out what is missing, and get it back.

1 comment:

bertlena said...

I had never before brought on screen the CMA web page through which I found your blog.

I too have read "Jim and Casper Go to Church". Don't agree with all its conclusions but it does give some excellent insights as to how non-believers react to church services.

Can't help but reconsider what drew people into the early church assemblies. It appears from the book of James that both rich and poor attended --no special "seeker sensitive" ploys it seems.

Of course the early Christians were often considered "wierdos" with all their talk about a crucified Saviour who rose again from the dead as the only hope of mankind. In Acts its says that the preaching of the "resurrection" raised controversy. We don't hear to much preaching on that or on the second coming nowadays.

There was something attractive about those early Christians. They were "different" for sure but with a difference that attracted the hopeless followers of heathen gods, rich and poor, educated and uneducated.

How we need to recapture that puzzling attractivness. People need to sense it, in our homes, in the workplace, in the classroom, everywhere.

"Be like Jesus this my song, in the home and in the throng; be like Jesus all day long -- I would be like Jesus". It's called the surrendered life, the Spirit-filled life.

Oh Lord give me that hunger and thirst for You!