The sun is shining rainbows through the stained glass. The flowers look fresh and invigorating as they grace the platform. The choir and band take their place. The minister stands up on the front steps to welcome the congregation, and that's when it becomes visible - the gap.
Even though there's a good crowd in church today, there they all are -
sitting in the back rows!
Haven't we all seen this? It's one of the biggest complaints we've heard from pastors, music directors, and even congregations. It's particularly bad if the main entrance is at the back of the sanctuary or if, like one church we served, there's a cross aisle splitting the space in half.
For many, there's a comfort in sitting so far back in the sanctuary. Perhaps they harken back to their school days. When you sat in the back, you could get away with passing notes or doodling on your desk. The teacher didn't call on you as often. You could get lost in your daydreams...
But is that really what we want in our church?
There are countless articles about how worship music - contemporary or traditional, depending on the author - has become a "performance." These writers blame the volume, instruments, vocalists, song choices, band clothing, lighting, and a host of other factors on turning Congregations into Audiences.
I've already had my say on the slamming of the word "Performance"
(you can read it HERE.)
So let me add this:
Nothing contributes more to turning a Congregation into an Audience
than that big swath of empty front pews!
We need each other in worship! We need to hear each other pray and sing. We need to feel the friendly energy of the woman behind us, and the pain of the young man sitting beside us. We need to laugh together at the minister's joke, and smile as the children perform their special song.
And those folks at the front, they desperately need you! As much as all of us in ministry love what we do, we're not doing it just for ourselves. We're doing it for God and for you. We need you to join us. We want to hear your voices and feel your spirit.
Think about the best show you ever attended. Chances are, the audience was full. Not only could you feel the energy of the performers, you could actually feel the energy of the audience. When we're close to each other, we become part of something larger than ourselves. We have a unique experience of community and togetherness. We're connected in ways we can never be when we sit far apart.
Yes, we all need moments of silence and solitude in our faith walk but corporate worship isn't one of them. It's our time to experience the full body of Christ. It's our moment to be a member of a family connected by love.
So Churches, rope off those back pews this week! Have the ushers invite folks up to the front.
And Worshippers, let's come together on Sunday, and sit a little closer.
We're all in this together, so let's be together.
Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!