I have not physically been to Bruce Springsteen concert but I hear it is just like a church service. Some spiritual and transcendent happens. The way he describes his concert is not too far off on how we should look at church. Listen to how he describes “the magic trick” (it starts at 5:06) an then check my commentary below.
Now, before you say, “Lots of churches already look like rock concerts”, I am not talking about making our church more rocking’; although that is not entirely a bad thing, what I am talking about it our attitude towards the service, whether you are the preacher or the congregant.
The magic trick
Some would call this blasphemous, but I know, as a Pastor, that what the “magic trick” is, it’s God’s presence. Magic Trick would be a term that people who do not understand the presence or power of God might use to describe such an experience if they were in church. My friends used to call communion “snack time” and “cookies and juice”. They did not get it, but that’s all they knew.
We are there to manifest something
As Pastor or participant, you could say that you show up to church because it’s your job or it’s an obligation. But, what if we took a different approach? What if bother Pastor and participate came to the table with the same idea, “Let’s do this together”. What would happen to the church service if we approached the service this way?
It’s just an empty space until we show up
I love this. It what ha been said for years. We are the church. The “church” is just a building until the church shows up, us. We are where the “magic” happens. between us and God and between us and each other. What would change about church if we came into service knowing that someone else’s experience of church or of God could depend on us?
You and the congregation work together
The worship leader has a job. The preacher has a job. The worship leader leads songs, the preacher preaches the word. What does or should the participants do? If you go to a pentecostal church like me, you would sing, raise your hands, do a dance. and shout amen. What if you don’t go to a pentecost church? You can still sing (just not as loud) you could give an amen (just not as loud) you could do a little dance (just tap your foot a little, it’s ok, no one will see). You can also give in the offering, volunteer for the nursery or to usher; become a part of the service and you’ll see God move in ways you never thought before.
You are going to pull it out of thin air
This is where faith comes in. We gather by faith to worship a God we cannot physically see (although I would say we could see Him in each others) and to listen to although we cannot audibly hear Him (although, when the Word speaks, He speaks). Many times we come to church because of personal needs, we want something. What if we wanted something for someone else as much as we wanted it for ourselves? Something will begin to manifest, for us and for others.
Our job is to help make another thing
Stephen Colbert mentions the word transubstantiation. It is when one thing becomes another. Before we came to the church building we were individuals, broken, searching, hopeful, including the Pastor. I speak from personal experience. If take all the gifts, voices, and passions in the room we could make another thing. Together we could make joy out of sorrow. We could turn sickness into healing. We could turn lost into found. Everyone doing their part can make one thing another.
For some people, it’s like their first kiss
Bruce makes a great illustration here. The excitement we feel from our first kiss is a lot like the first time we sense God’s presence. Those of us who have been in church for a while are like old married people who have taken kisses for granted. Maybe that is why Jesus said, to the church of Ephesus, as well as us, we ought to return to our first love (Rev 2:4). We have to remember that it could be someones “first kiss”, first encounter with God and we ought to be committed to them recent the kiss they long for.
It could altar you for the rest of your life
Bruce believes his concerts can be life altering. and from testimonies I’ve hear, it is. It’s something you never forget. Shouldn’t church be this way? When the body of Christ gathers, should it be life altering, not just for us who participate but for those who lead? As a pastor, I want transformation for myself as much as I want it for the guy in the back row but for that to happen, we both have to participate.
God does the transforming but we all have to take a step of faith, believing that He want so show up.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
What if Bruce got up on stage, played for four hours and no one sang along, or cheered, or clapped. No magic. The church has to quit seeing church as a performance by a few people for the benefit of the masses, and start seeng church as an opportunity for someone to receive they first kiss.
Do come to perform or to participate?
When is the lat time you “felt the magic” in church?