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Sunday is Dying

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I spend a lot of time in thought. Probably too much. I sometimes will spend nights sitting up wide awake, staring at blank wall, wondering if we’ve completely miss it all. Everything we do at our churches…it’s in vain. I begin to wonder if we are merely a society that reflects what we’ve seen in other churches and christian venues around the world, and we’re truly living what God intended for the church to be. In that spirit, I begin to wonder if we are killing Sunday. As a leader in a church who is pastoring a flock of people, as well as giving out resources and advice to other worship leaders, I’m afraid that we are taking what God intended to be a sacred, God-centered time of celebration, and turning into a 60 minute over-the-top production.

And that scares me. Because I think I’m doing that too.

We all want our churches to grow. We all want our worship services to bring people to the Throne. But are we focusing so much on what we think people want, and not what they are spiritually craving? I really believe that might be the case. In that aspect, here’s some things I encourage each of you to try.

Stop playing it safe. I completely understand (and for the most part, apply) the seeker sensitive movement. It makes sense. It works. However, when we take this to the extreme and make Sunday an easy-does-it 60 minute program, we can destroy the Spirit moving in our presence. Let’s be honest, worship leaders: the gospel is not seeker sensitive. It’s for everyone. It’s love. It’s truth. And sometimes, the truth exposes our faults to make us better. Show these people who Jesus really is, and I promise you, the Spirit will move.

Pursue people, not perfection. Most worship leaders are perfectionists. I’m one. And you probably are too. We all want that perfect set, that perfect stage design, and that perfect musical quality in our musicians. We want to leave everyone in “awe” when they leave.

I’m here to tell you, that doesn’t exist.

The last few weeks at the church I lead worship at, I’ve decided to bring everything down a notch. No more over the top lighting. No click tracks with synced videos. Just music. Just a band, a few singers, a time of reflection, and a message.

And they love it.

People are craving genuine Jesus-centered worship services. They’ve all seen the mega church scene – but what would church be like if we just went back to the basics? These past few weeks, instead of people saying “great vocals today,” they’ve been saying “great God today.” And that tells me that I’m doing something right.

Leave it to Jesus. This really needs to no explanation. Work out the kinks, get your people ready…and just do church. Don’t worry if something goes wrong. Lay it at Jesus’ feet, and He will take care of the rest.

So, that’s it. Now, the ball is in your court. Are you going to continue to kill Sunday, or are you going to lay your entire set list, your service flow, and the message in God’s great hands, and let Him refine your Sunday?

Trust me, going with God is going to work out for the better.

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13 Responses to “Sunday is Dying”

  1. Interesting post, Josh. It’s cool to hear about your church family responding well to stripping things down. That’s always a refreshing thing to do. I understand the literary device here, but I’d be careful to also recognize that striving for excellence doesn’t always equal ‘killing Sunday.’ I definitely get what you’re saying. I think it’s possible to both push for excellence and also let the Holy Spirit influence the flow and refine our corporate worship services. Just my thoughts… I appreciate your point of view!

    • Hey Chris,

      Thanks so much for your comment, and thanks for understanding the real meaning in this post. I agree with you that striving for excellence doesn’t aways mean we’re destroying our services – usually, it’s the other way. I mean this as more of a caution of pursuing excellence more than God.

  2. Josh, this was a good article, but I do really resonate with Chris’ response. I found the article to be saying that what mega-churches do is wrong, which I can’t agree with, as well as your final paragraph seemingly pointing a finger at people. I don’t think it’s fair to say that others are “killing Sunday” because we have very ‘perfected’ worship with lights and haze and the like. Performance doesn’t mean that we don’t focus on God. I like to think of Elevate church, new believers weekly proves that all of that “excellent” and “perfected” worship/church service does great work. My main thought is that all churches are different, the stripped down worship that really worked at your church (and praise God) shouldn’t be pushed at others under a headline that they’re doing it wrong. My two cents.

    • I agree with your point, Dan. I think what Josh is saying here is a stripped-down approach is what helped his congregation. The last couple paragraphs the challenge is to lay the service at the feet of Jesus, and let Him have His way with it, to “let Him refine your Sunday”. For each congregation, “refining” is going to look different. For a church with a high production standard, overlooking little mistakes can really free up one’s mind to focus on worship, and ministering to people.

      • Thanks for the comment Ben! Yes, that exactly what the intent of this post is suppose to be. As a matter of fact, most of our worship services are not stripped down- they are HIGHLY produced. However, I did this more as a test for our people to make sure our services weren’t becoming more emotion driven rather than worship driven.

    • Hey Dan,

      Thanks for the comment! I’m not even saying that “stripped down” is what always works for us – this is more of a call for us to focus more on God than the actual sound of the service.

  3. Josh-I totally respect what you are saying…my place of worship happens to be in a house with a small body of believers. It’s simple, down-to-earth and intimate. The way I believe worship should be. Less can be more. Cheers and God bless

  4. Josh,

    I am in a different church almost every week ministering for the last 14 years and I am a musician. While I agree with a lot of what you said I would like to ask a question and make a suggestion. I have been in small stripped down settings and some were great and some were terrible and I have been in large mega churches with all the extras and it was amazing and sometimes terrible. On a recent visit to a mega church where the worship was really inspiring I asked myself why? Was it the lights, the musicians, what was it? When it hit me. I felt like the people on the platform really beleived what they were singing about. I didn’t know them and had never meet any of them but they seemed to have a personal connect to the words of the song and it was plain to see. To quote an old preacher I know “if it don’t burn in you, it won’t burn in them”. So rather than blaming the veune, the staging, the lights, the musicians (or whatever) could it be that we should humbly check our passion. Just a suggestion maybe that is the issue? I don’t know just a thought.

    Peace,
    Jimmie

    • Hey Jimmie,

      Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your dedication to help other churches with their music. I have even noticed in myself that the actual venue of the place makes want to “worship” God more – or does it? Sometimes, emotionalism and genuine worship are blurred together. Like you said, checking our passion is where it starts.

  5. Agree with you Josh Seeker sensitive is and always has been a farce. “none seeks God, no not one.” Where is there a seeker sensitive model in Acts when God killed Ananias and his wife? That church growth theory doesn’t jive with post modernism. And yet in that next chapter in Acts, all the more believers were added to the church.

    Here’s a challenge for the lights and fog churches… Can you worship God in song and praise WITHOUT all of that stuff, as well as you THINK you worship with it?

    Nail down worshipping In Spirit and in truth with no sound system, no flashy lights, and no fog first. Then if u still truly feel a need for all of those secondary aesthetics, go for it. Worship happens because people stand in awe of our holy magnificent and awesome God. Not because some mood lighting and light acoustic background music moved them emotionally.

    I love this site and all of your inputs, ideas, and passion for the church. Keep it up guys.

    • Hey Mike,

      Thanks for commenting. I’m not one to judge whether or not a church culture (i.e. seeker sensitive) is actually a hinderance to the church or not – I just know that we live in a Laodicean era where we are told that performance will rule over true worship. I throughly appreciate your challenge – I wonder what those churches worship services would be like if they did strip everything away? It might help clear the lines between emotionalism and true worship.

    • Mike – Thank you for your reply. I agree with this and others who have identified the heart or the worshiper as the true focus. The environment is completely secondary. Jesus rebuts this very issue with the woman at the well when He says true worship is done in spirit and truth, not where or how it is done. God is magnificent and worthy to be praised no matter what/where/when/why/how. Whether you are alone, in despair, or in the congregation and fully aware of His splendor and glory. Reference Elijah and the still small voice in the midst of the tempest.

      Josh – Thank you for your post. It is very applicable to our day and age. I appreciate your honesty and humility to open your heart up on this matter.

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