It is early Thursday morning and I am reflecting over our Wednesday night service. We have been doing something different on Wednesday nights. Last night our time together, not much more than an hour, was simple - I read Philippians from start to finish, no preaching along the way - just the Word. I set up the reading with about a paragraph worth of history. The reading took about 20 minutes. At this point we put on some beautiful worship music and simply rested in the presence of God. There was no worship team. No graphics on the screen. Just the music and the church resting in God's presence. This went on for about 30 minutes. During this time the people could get up and take communion. They could assume any posture they wanted anywhere in the sanctuary. And then after this time of resting and listening prayer we had the church break up into small groups of 3-4 people to pray for their lives, the church and the community.
We wrapped up the night with our offering and announcements. When it was all done people lingered longer than on other nights. There was a feeling of rest and fellowship. People wanted to linger in the presence of rest.
So, as a pastor I want to ask you my fellow pastors - "Can you dial it down?" It is tough in a program-driven world to think that your people can survive without always being driven towards a planned experience. The people who walk into the doors of our churches are emotionally fried. They have few places to dial down and simply be in God's presence.
Taking the step to make something like this available to your church might be tougher than you think. Not tough for the people - they are hunger for it, just tough for pastors who have always felt the need to produce. Your people are waiting for you to give them an oasis of rest where outcomes and results are not what drive the structure of what we do when we gather.