Category archives: Seasons

Age-Segregated Worship On the Way Out?

Here’s an interesting sign of the times:

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale now offers only one service at 10:15 a.m. with, essentially, blended worship – that means no more separation based on age, likes and comfort.

For years Coral Ridge was the best-known Presbyterian Church (PCA) in the country, due to the influence of the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. But now, under Senior Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of Billy Graham, it’s ending its practice of offering two distinct worship styles (“contemporary” and “traditional”).

The article assumes that preferences in worship style is synonymous with age, which is not always true, but it’s right a lot more often than it’s wrong.

My camp of Presbyterians, the PC(USA), believes that children should be part of worship, as stated in our Directory of Worship, §W-3.1004:

Children bring special gifts to worship and grow in the faith through their regular inclusion and participation in the worship of the congregation. … The session should ensure that regular programs of the church do not prevent children’s full participation with the whole congregation in worship, in Word and Sacrament, on the Lord’s Day.

If that’s true of children and worship, how much less reason is there to segregate different groups of adults?

(Sorry I can’t provide a better link to our Directory of Worship. There don’t seem to be many people in our denomination who understand things like open standards, permalinks, etc.)

Fall Season – Huddles

This post appears, in slightly-altered form, in the September Panorama:

Here it is, almost fall again! Where did the summer go?

A highlight of the summer for me was our brief trip to the Navajo Nation in Arizona. We were privileged to visit St. Michael’s Association for Special Education and the evangelical (Protestant) church at Hunter’s Point, along with several others from our church.

This type of ministry is the essence of what Jesus meant when he told us to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). Too often, we assume that someone else will do it for us. “The church does that,” we think. But “the church” can’t go on mission trips. The church can’t visit someone in the hospital. The church can’t tutor someone who’s trying to learn to read or to speak English. People have to do those things, and I’m so happy that people who do, call this church home.

The church, of course, has a role in carrying out the mission of Christ in this world. Sometimes, we have to partner with others in our church to achieve what Christ calls us to do. As just one example, there are homeless people in our community who could actually afford to rent an apartment–except for the startup costs (first and last month’s rent, utility hookups, etc.). Believers at Desert Hills help to address that need by giving A.R.C.H. money through their contributions to the church’s mission budget. (For another example, see the article in this issue. We support the food pantry individually by donating food, and together as a church with our contributions.)

The second thing our church does is equip the saints (you and me) for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). The things we do as the gathered church–our Sunday worship, fellowship activities, and education programs –all function like the “huddle” a football team goes into before each play. When we’re finished with our “huddle” we disperse, going back into the world to carry out our Commission.

With summer winding down, we will be resuming our second worship service. Last spring, our two services were practically identical; the only significant difference was that the choir sang in the first service. This fall, we’re going to be looking for ways to give each service its own flavor. The choir will participate in the first service, as before. In the second service, I’m going to begin using multimedia (i.e., a projector). I have some ideas about how that can enhance the worship experience. This will give me a “laboratory” to experiment, by projecting scriptures and prayers on the screen, referring to other scriptures, including visual aids, and so forth.

No matter which worship service you prefer, you will be able to participate in a Bible Study this fall. If you come for the first service, stay for a Bible study afterwards. Or come for a Bible study during the first service, then join us in worship afterward.

It’s always exciting in the fall as we shake off our summer doldrums and ramp up our programs. I think our “huddles” will be even more helpful to us this fall. But nobody goes to a game to watch the huddle. What really matters is what we do after the huddle. If you’ve got ideas about things we can do as a church to help one another carry out the Great Commission between Sundays, give me a call. I’d love to talk with you about them. And until next time, be a blessing!

Dry Bones

I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie Star Wars. I have. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and all its sequels and the more recent prequels. You could fairly say I’m a Star Wars fanboy — and I’ve done what I could to make sure my kids are too.

I know the exact moment when I became a Star Wars fan. It was the first time I saw Star Wars, about 30 seconds into the movie.

If you’ve seen it, you remember the opening scene has this battle between two space ships. The first one goes roars overhead, then there’s a moment with these green laser blasts zipping through space, then the second ship goes by. And goes by. And goes by. And keeps going by.

(If you haven’t seen it, watch it on youtube.)

Where the first ship passed overhead in a moment, the second ship takes about 15 or 20 seconds to fly by, so you realize just how big it is.

The moviemaker is able, in the first minute, to give you an idea of the scale of his story.

There’s an equally cinematic moment in Ezekiel 37:

1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”

A valley full of dry bones! Close your eyes and take a moment to picture it.

What is it that God is revealing here? What does Ezekiel’s vision mean, that these dry bones were restored to life?

Whatever else it may mean, it says something about the scale God operates on. It says God is bigger than our problems. God is bigger than our imaginations.

It’s helpful to remember that.

Some days I wonder how things will turn out with our church. I think it’s possible for us to turn things around financially. I have a vision of a church that is making an impact in people’s lives — here in our community, but also among our own members. I believe that. But there are days when I’m discouraged.

That goes double for the broader problems in our society. I don’t believe the troubles with our economy will be our undoing, nor the war on terror. I believe our society can still address problems with education and health care and the disintegration of the family.

This season of Lent is a time for us to remember what a sorry situation we are in. It’s a time for us to consider how pervasive sin and its effects are in the world. It’s a time to see just how much the world resembles a valley full of dry bones.

Easter is coming, but it’s not here yet. While we wait for it to arrive, we can cling to our hope in God. Because our problems are real, and serious, and very, very big. But God is bigger still.