Re-inventing the wheel?
There is a mantra I have recently begun to live by. I am not reinventing worship; I am trying to design an easier way to relate to God. I came to this realization while watching a totally secular movie, Objectified. The film did an excellent job getting across the point that everything has a design. Commercials? Designed. The car you drive. Designed. The way a store or restaurant is set up. Designed. Even the cup you drink your coffee from in the morning has a design to it. The only thing that differentiates one subject from another is whether that design is good or bad.
Church is a design! From the moment you notice the building there is an implicit message that organization is trying to send you. This message exists in the parking lot, in brochures, during the sermon, and after the service. Even while the minister is preaching on Jesus Christ the implicit message is still there. This message could be, "You are welcome here." It could be, "We are scared." It could even be, "You have to be at least this poor/rich to join this church." Most churches don't even realize that they carry around an internal message or what that message might be. This all lies in their design. Once again, it might be a good design or it might be a bad design but every church has one.
The biggest realization I had came at the end of the movie. A group was looking at a toothbrush. Yeah! A toothbrush. They were frustrated because a toothbrush is not an economical design. You use one for a limited amount of time and then it ends up in the garbage taking 500+ times longer to decompose than the amount of time you spent using it. The ending scenes showed a group brainstorming ways to redesign a toothbrush when one of them had an eureka moment. I am paraphrasing, but she said, perhaps we are not reinventing the toothbrush but redesigning how we do oral care. Wow! As soon as I heard it I understood it in a new context: church! I am not reinventing worship; I am trying to design an easier way to relate to God. 80% of mainline Protestant churches are in decline. The solution to that is not just reinventing the worship service. The solution is getting to the meat of the issue. How are we relating to God?