September 01, 2008
Went to the Lutheran church in Vernon, to visit fellow pastor, Roy White. (His son, Brent White, is a leader in our church and just went with me to Ethiopia). Roy did a great job leading a liturgical Lutheran service. Preached a fine message on patience from Romans 12.
The church had about 160 folks there with the majority over 70. Nice people, sincere about their faith.
Then drove to Willow Park Church in Kelowna (about 40 minutes) and caught their 11am service. This is a mega church with 4 locations linked by video messages. It seemed to be patterned like a hybrid of "saddleback and willow creek". After a couple of worship songs, then a professional quality video intro piece, I watched a video for 40 minutes...that was followed by communion and a couple more songs.
The message on "blessed are you when you are persecuted" was well done and sparked some personal questions in my own life. The congregation was average age 40 I would say.
My two different church experiences where quite divergent. I love the variety in the body of Christ. My concern lies with vitality and depth. Will we see mass quantities of churches die as the builder and boomer generations die? What quality and depth of faith will we pass on to the next generation?
In my opinion, I am troubled by video venues. They can be effective and there are arguments that can be made for their use. However, the Word of God is meant to be brought in an "incarnational" manner. That is the divine interaction between the Holy Spirit, the Holy Scripture, and the Holy Servant as the message is delievered to God's Holy People.
The truth was not affected by the video delivery system, but I felt the power of the Word was diminished. The sincerity was there but the personal engagement and sense that God was flowing through his vessel in that moment for the needs of the people of the gathered...that was lacking for me.
Made me think deeply about my presentation of God's Word...how to engage more deeply when 400 folks are looking at me...my plea is that they would not just hear the propositional truth but they would hear the personal truth...the impact of the Holy Spirit for them in that moment. I must deepen my personal incarnational preparation for that to happen.
Came up and took a long hike with Deb in the splendor of the mountains.
Feasted in Romans on a few chapters.
Then went to the IPE...Inner-Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong a huge fair and rodeo in a small town. After seeing all manner of cows, chickens, and swine (including a calf that was only 2 hours old) we settled into the rodeo...some of the best cowboys anywhere competed. We had great seats and I even snagged one of the six tshirts shot out of the clown's tshirt cannon...it was a brilliant catch according to my wife.
Honestly, the Rodeo was more engaging, exciting and personal than either church service...as good as the services were. I believe, our churches would benefit from less predictability and more wild and wooly God-stories of people taking the ride of their life... yes, sometimes getting bucked off and ending in the dirt...but also, sometimes riding the bull until the ringmaster pulls you safely onto their horse. Cowboys don't want the tame rides....the winners want the wildest bull available...deliver me from tame Christianity that is safe, predictable and boring!
Got home and ended a glorious day under a canopy of bright stars (39 degrees out) in a rooftop hot tub (102 degrees).