Using Worship to Reach People without Selling Your Soul, Part 2
So, we’re trying to figure out how to reach people through our church worship gatherings without selling our souls in the process! To accomplish that, I’m attempting to redefine a couple of key words that have been muddling up the dialogue between different sides of this great debate. In the first part of this two-part blog post, we examined what Quality really means when it comes to our churches’ worship. Now for the next word…
Word #2: Accessible
Within our church circles, it seems an accessible worship gathering has come to mean one that is watered down. As though the only way church-outsiders could possibly be reached through a worship gathering is to dumb everything down to the most elementary of concepts. This tired definition of accessible seems insulting to their intelligence, doesn’t it?
A truly accessible worship gathering makes people feel like they, too, could be a Christ-worshipper. Even without having to jump through hoops, learn secret handshakes, or get a seminary degree. The easiest way to accomplish this is to act like we’re actually glad unchurchy people are in attendance:
- Acknowledge from the stage that we expect them to be in attendance. It doesn’t have to be canned. Probably better if it’s not.
- Use a translation of the Bible that doesn’t require a lot of explanation when we don’t have time for a lot of explanation. (I like the New Living Translation for these situations.)
- Admit that we don’t have it all figured out, either.
- If we’re going to spend much time talking about a religious concept or practice (i.e. baptism, sanctification, communion, justification by faith, etc), we need to first explain the basics in non-religious terms. That’s just good manners. (You wouldn’t sit around the dinner table telling inside jokes with your family while your guests sit staring awkwardly at their plates…)
- Invite them to observe rather than participate. This goes for anything, including worship. But I especially think it’s important with Communion. Inviting them to observe sounds better than strictly forbidding them. In Worship by the Book, Timothy Keller shares an example his church has used to address non-believers before communion:
“If you are not in a position to take the bread and cup, then take Christ! It is the best possible time to do business with him, no matter what your spiritual condition or position. He is present.”
Here’s the deal: Non-believers who are showing up at a church will be expecting to find something they’re not accustomed to. That’s part of why they’re coming in the first place: to discover what this whole church thing is all about. If we want to reach people, we must be a church highly engaged in worshipping a God who is clearly accessible to them.
Do you buy that worship gatherings should be accessible to non-believers?
Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”