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.
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.
Here 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 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…
Integrated 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 welcome 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.
Non-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.
Sacramental. 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?