This week I have been in Sioux Falls taking part of something called "The Vista Process." It can get kinda weird trying to explain what it is. Those who host it call it a "Case Cohort Initiative" which does about zero good when attempting to explain to others what the heck I've been doing over the past three days.
Simply put, VantagePoint3 (the organization which offers discipleship processes like The Journey and A Way of Life) invites 5-7 pastors and church leaders from the U.S. and Canada to bring and share a deep concern concerning adult discipleship within their church or ministry. With guidance from wise facilitators and input from our fellow church leaders, we work on customized responses to our concerns, designing a plan and eventually implementing it on our churches.
It's a rewarding experience to set aside these days to do little else but think, pray and talk about your hopes and dreams for your church. You are forced to dig deep into yourself, confront your own fears and sense of inadequacy, and discover the faith to believe that God can truly use you and your church to reveal more of God's kingdom in His world.
The concern that I believe God has called me to think about and attempt to discover an answer to comes down to this question: **Do our Sunday worship experiences actually equip us to follow Jesus during the rest of the week? **Specifically, in the context of worship and liturgy, do our gathered practices (what we do as 300-600 people in a room) give us the tools we need to engage in scattered practices (in our homes, families, workplaces) to make us more like Jesus?
Baldly put: do we have transformational experiences with God any other time than Sunday? If not, what can we do to change that?
I've always known and been convinced that something unique and special happens when God's people come together to worship as a large group. And that something special shouldn't be ignored and done away with.
But what bothers me is when that experience becomes "an end" and not "a means." In other words, what happens on Sunday should equip us to be encountering Jesus the rest of the week, on a day-to-day basis. If we walk away from a Sunday experience thinking, "I'm good for the week," we've missed the point.
However, the very structure of a typical worship service can actually be counterproductive if encountering God the rest of the week is the goal. When what happens on Sunday seems so excellent and so unattainable, it's no surprise that when we're by ourselves or with our families we don't bother engaging in worship and devotional practices. "I'll never attain the high that I did on Sunday just by sitting here praying. I might as well wait for the next worship service."
So, those are the questions that I've been batting around for a while now.