There are so many churches today looking for the next big idea. The newest stage lighting, the most innovated technology, better sound equipment, digital soundboards, a fresher paint color, a bigger more catchy sign, a coffee shop, a bookstore and on and on.
None of these things are inherently bad, in fact they often are things that get word out about the church and hopefully bring people in.
But what happens when you don’t have those things?
Right now, our church is in transition. We just bought a building last year that had been sitting for quite awhile and have been in the process of build-out since.
Right now, our foyer is the only finished part of the building and maybe 1-2 offices that were there when we moved in. But the church on the inside leaves quite a bit to the imagination.
But that does not stop us from doing what we are supposed to be doing: HAVING CHURCH.
We do not have the LED lighting to excite the congregation during praise and worship. We don’t have great sound because the acoustics in the building are pretty bad right now. The sound bounces all over the place and is the audibility is pretty bad at times.
Our cordless mics keep dying on us, leaving the worship leader to scramble for a back up in the middle of a song.
The equipment is stored under the stage and you can see it sticking out sometimes.
One whole side of the church right now is just storage.
Our “sound room” is a table at the back corner of the sanctuary.
We don’t have internet or WIFI.
We don’t have props or stage lights or a curtain for special events and plays.
Our children’s ministry area is a large box with cubby style room dividers.
Our parking lot is dirt and when it rains, it becomes mud. White, sticky mud all over your Sunday clothing.
And to top it off…
So why would anyone in their right mind come to our church and stay for more than one super hot service? Because it is not for the atmosphere. It is not for the ambience and it surely isn’t for the nice cool building or the perfect sound.
They come because they meet God.
Even in the fancy buildings that are packed out, the lighting is perfect, the coffee hot, the A/C cold, the people that are coming in are not looking for a show…unless it is a concert that night. Even if they were invited to watch a play with excellent lighting and a soundtrack and props galore for Father’s Day, in the back of their hearts and soul, they were really there to see if God was there.
Right now, we don’t have all these things to offer a new comer. But what we have to offer should be the focus of every church around the world. We offer them a place where they are free to experience the healing, the love, the power, the mercy, the grace, the joy, the peace, the omnipotence, the omnipresence, the authority of Jehovah. Be it 100 degrees or 50 degrees, when they leave- if they receive a touch from God- that is what they will remember. Not the building, not the lack of ambiance. They will remember God.
What does it matter if we put on a show for them and they leave having a good time, but not getting closer to The Father?
When David had the ark of the covenant in nothing more than a tent, he diminished the power of the meeting place of God, and it bothered him. (1 Chron. 17:1 Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, See, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remains under curtains.) So while we continue to build the church out. And while we keep finishing another part of the sanctuary and upgrading the lighting and the sound, we do it to honor God. We do it to keep moving forward. We do it to see God’s glory in everything. But it is not the reason we have church; We have church to fellowship with God. To meet God. To worship He that is Holy.
Psalms 122:1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
As a worship team are you focused each week on having an experience with God? Do you expect the supernatural in your services- or are you worried more about the LED bar being in sync with the lyrics on the screen so the congregants can sing along?
PARKING LOT PRAISE! We did this on Friday nights during the summer when it was so hot. This year we are doing Home Church Life Groups in homes on Fridays.
This is what the inside looked like when we got it. These are the doors leading into the sanctuary.
This is a progress pic from 2013. Yes, that is our altar. On the floor! It was so intimidating to do praise and worship that close, but it was also intimate.
Being on the floor with the congregation removed the wall between the team and the people. You can’t really tell, but I am like 6 feet away from the people at the altar, directly in front of us here. We were “on their level”.
We still hosted gatherings of other churches. This is a group of women from the other worship teams. We held a rehearsal for one of the Women’s Conventions. It was a little chilly, but coming together was wonderful and what we remember was the fellowship.
Sunday morning service. The back wall covers the entrance. See how close Pastor is on the floor?! You better not fall asleep!
Here is another progress shot. We got primer up and the altar built.
Our Pastor has preached with the same conviction since he first came to Austin and started church in his house. The building does not dictate the message God gives him, or the authority by which he sends it out.
We are not finished yet, but we have to keep the main thing the main thing. God is the main thing.
When we start trying to distract people from the building in progress by putting on plays and events to make the altar look nice, or we add lighting and feel like that makes the service so much better, we miss out on the supernatural.
I would rather see Heaven come down in a warehouse, then lift up stale worship in a cathedral.