Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Worship and Suburbia

Our church staff has been in deep discussions for a while now about how to approach ministry within our context. We all have this love hate relationship with Suburbia. Everyone loves the perks of Suburbia, but everyone hates what Suburbia produces in us and the people we lead.

I’ve recently had a few conversations regarding worship in our context. For the purpose of this post, we’ll use the word worship to refer to our Sunday morning gatherings. Though I know that’s a mentality we’re trying to battle…that "worship is just what we do on Sunday mornings, " it will help for me not to have clarify every sentence I write here. ☺

Anywhere that I have led worship, my foremost thought after “What does God want to do here?” is “Who and Where am I leading?” This question helps me immediately put up a filter by which to make decisions about our worship gatherings.

I must say that this question permeates our thinking as a staff on a regular basis. We whole-heartedly seek God’s direction for where we’re going. Then we immediately consider our context. Do we claim to be experts on our culture…no, but we do think we have a pretty good tap on it.

So what do our worship gatherings look like in Suburbia? What is our aim on any given Sunday morning? Are we out to put on a “show,” or are we trying to lead people to God? Seems if you do anything that smells of production…you’re putting on a show. Try to create an environment that is creative and conducive to reflection…you’re manipulating people and not allowing God to show how He can work even in a sterile environment. Try to buy a building that will allow you a place to “ground” your ministry and people say, “can’t we just go worship in a field?”

The context of Suburbia must be considered when planning. Scripture confirms that (1 Cor 9:22). A balance must be found between letting it rule your thoughts and letting it be a factor that you consider in your planning. It’s easy to replace God with what we think is best for our culture. It’s easy to do what other churches do in Suburbia and miss how God wants you to reach Suburbia.

Church culture drives me crazy at times. What’s Fellowship, Lifechurch.Tv, MarsHill, Willowcreek, or Northpoint doing? “That must be where it’s at!”…Those are great churches and they are having an incredible impact reaching Suburbia in the way God is leading them . But honestly…I can’t sing U2. It would be rather humorous to listen to. But yet I’m called to a similar people as those in Grapevine, TX. I’ve been refreshed lately by watching some other churches and well respected leaders not cave to the system.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a heart for reaching my community…in Suburbia. In one of the safest cities in America.


  1. timmy,

    Hey, man I was reading your blog, and I can sense a liitle frustration in your words with the whole " SYSTEM " thing. The system is what is wrong with the church today. It lacks true worship and if Jesus were to walk into one of these churches he would probably say something like " These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." I have been going to Crossbridge now for almost a year and a half, and you know it is not the environment that we were brought up in. However, I enjoy it better than any church I have ever been to because it feels authentic. Yeah we can go worship in a field but even Jesus would probably say why are yall worshiping in a field, when you can do it inside in a school. Also, a lot of the books I have been reading make it seem like lighting,sound systems,projectors, and coffee are bad things and if a church has these things the worship there is superficial. I don't think you want to put on a show or a concert, but at the same time you do want to be professional. What is wrong with that? People are different in the way they respond to the Gospel. Someone might be big on visuals, one might be big on music, one might be big on verbal. So for all of the stereotypes of a church in "Suburbia" they are all wrong for Crossbridge. Yall are doing an outstanding job of leading a chucrh in Suburbia. I can't recall a Sunday when Chuck did not present the gospel in one of his messages, and that's what it is about. I would like to have a cup of coffee with Jesus(as long as it's hazlenut creamer,)I would like to watch the projectors with videos about waterwells with Jesus and here his thoughts on those things.I would like to clap hands and scream out real loud " yeah" with Jesus. I mean David stripped down naked and danced for God. When was the last time someone worshiped like that. Job shaved his head and fell on his face in worship. Imagine what people thought about their styles of worship. Why shouldn't we clap, dance, drink coffee, watch projectors about suffering people, offer literature for people that might need it, put on a Christmas Eve service, Easter egg drop, build houses in Mexico,and offer opportunites to sponsor kids through Compassion International. We are free in Christ and we cannot forget that. We don't have to follow rules and laws handed down to us by "religous people," because we are in God's army, and our aim is to please the one who enlisted us. I know this is kind a long but one more thing. Paul said he became all things to all people, so he may win a few, so if we have to where shorts, bluejeans, polo shirts, and sandals to win a few, so be it.

    Sorry for the long comment, but the system, religous people, and critics piss me off. oops I said piss me off! Hope I still measure up in their eyes!

    Nicholas Barosh

  2. dude, i love this post. i love that you guys spend time and energy thinking through all of this, not just playing it like the next guy might.

    you rock dude.

  3. Hey Tim,
    Man, I just want to send you guys a little encouragement! Carissa and I absolutely LOVE the realness of Crossbridge, the fact that we can come and actually worship and be challenged in the same sitting... I really think that the worship team has done a great job of not performing but actually worshiping. You have done a great job of making sure thats the focus. Having seen Carissa on many different worship teams, I can just see the different priorities each team has and I think ya'lls have been very pure. Anyways, I was just checking your Blog out and wanted you to know how much we enjoy visiting Crossbridge. For selfish reasons I wish we could be part of the Crossbridge family but we both strongly feel the call to be at the church we are at. We love you guys and are so encouraged to here about Churches doing things the right way; the biblical and Godly way!-nick v.

  4. now that you're getting a handle on worship in suburbia, wanna help me tackle worship in the inner city? I think wherever you are the questions are the same.

    "What does God want to do here?” is “Who and Where am I leading?”

    its the how that is difficult for me...nevermind that I'm trying to span a HUGE generation gap...

    good post.

  5. Tim Check out my pray for Hemant Link on my blog.