The Church We Daydream About, Part 2: The Worship Service

e5a0bdadaa08562c9275f469c038566d.1000x667x1We (Aimee and Tony Kriz) are not church-goers. To be specific, currently, we do not regularly attend a brick-and-mortar church’s services or programs.

Not going to church is not our preference. We are very pro-church. We are proud of our individual stories, having been integral participants in numerous churches around the world. We are honored to have walked together with a Portland, Oregon church plant that grew into a model regional mega-church. We have supported and advised on dozens of new and transformational churches.

churchofnativityAnd, if there existed a neighborhood-church within walking distance of our house, we would passionately attend that church tomorrow.

It is because of our deep love of church (community, ceremony and mission) that we have this conversation at least once a week: What is our dream church? On this page, we want to take our weekly discussion public. We would like you to weigh in.

bethlehem_church_of_nativity_cave_of_birthHere is a disclaimer. We are not attempting to describe an “ideal” church, this conversation is more about preference and our evolving values as passionate Christ-followers living in the heart of one of America’s least Christian cities: Portland, Oregon.

In Part 1, we shared about a few things we don’t care that much about.  Read those here.

In this second offering, we want to talk about the weekly gathering event, often referred to a “worship service.”  If (yes, I said IF)… if our daydream church had a regular structured event, we imagine…

productmain_01largeIntegrated Egalitarian Worship. We heard a Lutheran pastor once say that she prints off the different elements of worship and leaves them at the church’s entrance. As congregants arrive they can choose if they wish to exercise leadership that particular Sunday by grabbing an element of the service: scripture readings, prayers of the people, passing of the peace, etc. Each spiritual-pilgrim is equally welcome to lead in this way, including a first time visitor or a child if they feel led.

All-Ages Worship. The hope would be that children would be just as 266D2B0C00000578-2985237-Mariam_Korkor_church_This_is_one_of_the_extraordinary_Christian_-a-26_1425837590886welcome in the broader worship gathering as the elderly. Also, this community would practice shared childcare (as appropriate) so that every worshipper could fully engage.

Church-in-the-Round. This is an imagination around the worship architecture. No stage… No front and no back… Altar at the center… looking at faces instead of the backs of people’s heads.   Not every building lends itself to a non-concert-hall organization, but remember, we are daydreaming here.

Old+Church+PewsNon-Homogeneous. This one is difficult in our often-segregated America and her most segregated hour: 11am on a Sunday morning. Over the last decade, our family and community have been irreplaceably transformed by our actual integration and submission to African-Americans, Hispanics and Indigenous peoples. If the church is at least partially designed to prepare us for heaven (Revelation 7:9), it is logical for us to attempt to practice heaven now.

12._Holy_Sepulchre__551_768_80Sacramental. Simply put, the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper is the single most meaningful element of public worship for us. It is the most level, egalitarian and inviting shared stage of the Christ-encounter and we would hope that it would be a priority for our church. Additionally, the sacramental mindset leads a community to see all things as sacred for “in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

 

It is far from an exhaustive list, these are just some of the themes that our imaginations drift toward.  There are some obvious things that we don’t daydream about, because they are already givens and true of most any church service, like readings from the sacred texts.

So now it is your turn.  What would you add or substitute from this list?

14 Responses to “The Church We Daydream About, Part 2: The Worship Service”

  1. Ive often dreamed about these things as well. One of the difficulties i see in our modern structure of corporate gatherings is they often limit the particular gifts to those who speak or read well, the most gifted musicians in the church and teachers. I would love to see a church seek out the giftings of all of the people who enter the doors, allowing all to have something to bring as their act of service: a local farmer who can offer his crops to those in need, a room where a spiritual director or counselor can sit with those who are hurting or processing through difficult times in their faith, a time where needs can be shared and then met by others in the congregation (ie. A mechanic who can change oil for a single mom that’s struggling to make ends meet, etc.).
    I guess what im saying is that there are many church circles where if you arent gifted in the arts, you just have to be a spectator. I dream of a church where everyone is welcome and given an opportunity to share their particular gift with others.

    -Phil

  2. Tony and Aimee,
    Love reading your stuff. I am in a constant space of not really knowing how to express my faith in or with the “church”. The following is probably more just trying to flesh out ideas than any one specific thing.
    I am constantly agitated by the hierarchial stance of the “traditional church model”. The inability to be engaged in conversation about faith and the bible rather than talked to. Discovering what god can do when we engage the community around us, eat together, share life thoughts difficulties and happy things. I once was involved in a what started as a house church. It was a beautiful but broken thing. That time holds a sweet place in my heart.
    I have been reading Pagan Christianity, by George Barna and Frank Viola. This has only fed my desire to meet with people who resonate with god and discuss, question, grow, eat, develop and build relationships.
    I attend a building referred to as “a church” ocassionally mainly because it is honestly easier and helps me feel less guilty….for What? Not going to church… It’s easier than reaching out and developing relationships. I can go in sit down and leave knowing I went and did something that made me feel good about myself. Perhaps feel better than the people who did not do the same thing as me.
    Is “going to church” a bad evil thing? No. Can you learn and grow in a building, YES! I know and learned many things in church. Many things that I learned continue to inform my faith. And I am still growing and learning and hope to never stop this process.
    Thanks for these writings. There is hope for The Church.

    • Gwen, Your thoughts and longings around faith and community are so very important. thank you for adding to this discussion. I agree with you “going to church” is a good thing. It really really is. I have no desire to critique church gatherings. I want to be able to hold a love of the church (even the brick and mortar expressions of church) in one hand AND hold thoughtful critique and longing for more integrated, holistic, authentic… even biblical expressions of this church-thing in the other. Is that possible? Will they let us do that? -tony

      Tony Kriz
  3. I am loving this daydreaming together… my favorite part of this post was the IF… seriously – we are several weeks in, and we want to ‘do’ (?) church differently – and not as structured, but oh my goodness it is so hard to not just fall into old routines! I love the invitation for everyone to be involved. Our heart is to not plug people in to fill a need, but to encourage them to find what they want to do, and release them to do that. We are called Dad’s House on purpose because we love and value family and community and we want all ages from young and -well, not young, in our services and participating and entering in. So far, we don’t even offer ‘childcare’ and we love having the families all together. As we grow – I’m sure we’ll deal with more options – but the ‘shared childcare’ is a must! We actually meet in a theater in the round – so yeah, all that you said! Amen! One of the most important things to us starting out was to not be some hipster segregated answer… (You know what I mean!)… it is hard and we must be intentional and authentic, but this multi-cultural non-homogenous desire is Kingdom… as you said, we may as well practice it now –we all benefit! Communion… we are doing it this evening in our small group but we have not yet done it as a body on a Sunday. It is coming though – because yes… just yes! As far as adding to the list, we want to encourage community – not just inside on a Sunday – but outside, reaching outward –not pulling inward. We hope to be out and about simply to be a blessing and to speak life to our neighborhood and community at large. We also want to widen our views of the arts… to bring in storytelling and spoken word and poetry, painting and dance – sure – but also like what Phil touched on above – releasing everyone to use their giftings in freedom and love.

    For years – we have dreamed of such a place. Looking for it… waiting for it. (Because, let’s just be honest… that seemed easier!) But the wait is over. Now is the time, because it turns out, we weren’t the only ones longing!

    • Karrilee, you know I am a big fan… and a huge cheerleader for all that y’all are doing. Keep dreaming… keep risking. As for your last thoughts… keep your eyes open for part 3. -tony

      Tony Kriz
  4. I would love to see church played out in as community-oriented a way as possible. I love the “Integrated Egalitarian Worship” concept where each person is invited to participate in whatever way they desire.

    One thing I would love to see happen is church changing from the lecture hall into different organizations. I love the “Church-in-the-Round” concept. Would also love to see church done like a dinner hall with tables spread out and people eating together *while* worshiping. At least something with food. Our culture is so oriented on food (which culture isn’t?) that it’s a bummer we limit communion to only a wafer and grape juice.

    • Matthew, what you are suggesting is essentially what church looks like for us now. It is only our dining room table with 8-10 friends sitting around. We do some short liturgy, scripture reading and then we take Eucharist. The meal lingers for a couple of hours of intentional conversation and then we end with a benediction and blessing/sending. Thank you for contributing such wonderful thoughts. -tony

      Tony Kriz
  5. Sounds pretty similar to a church I’ve attended in Silverton. Once a month they have Worship Circle and people are so involved in worship, its awesome. Kids play instruments and help write a worship song for the night then they sing it. A lot of scripture reading by a lot of people. Its fun. Last time I went my daughter just danced the whole time.

  6. Imperfect people are the church. We all need the power of the Holy Spirit to move both within His church and without. We have always tried to work within the church of our choice and make it better as the Spirit moves us.

  7. Gary Schulstad June 12, 2015 at 12:58 Reply

    The word daydream in these posts pulled me in to reflecting on your stated preferences.

    As you know Tony, my wife and I attend events in a brick-and-mortar church as one aspect of our worship life. Those events, unfortunately, do not always have attributes like you list here.

    Our building is structured so church-in-the-round is possible. Occasionally that is the way our church is set up for a particular season. I additionally appreciate the idea that when the space is not set up that way, we are still in the round as the communion of saints, past and future, are invisibly present to complete the circle.

    Predominantly we are in a homogeneous neighborhood which is reflected in who attends. I know there is more this congregation can do to welcome outsiders, and we do diligently work on realizing we are all outsiders trying to be church together.

    I also agree that sacrament is the most meaningful element of worship. Sharing the Lord’s Supper with a particular congregation and; more broadly; the larger, catholic church for years continues to increase my appreciation of that truth.

    God’s grace leads us all to where and how we are able worship. From your description, you and Aimee lead and have led blessed worship lives. I look forward to hearing more.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Church We Daydream About, Part 3: Shared Life and Structures | Tony Kriz - June 12, 2015

    […] In Part 1, we shared about a few things we don’t care that much about.  Read those here. In Part 2, we shared imaginations about the weekly worship gathering.  Read those here. […]

Leave a Reply