10 Marks of Effective Church Plants (4)

10 Marks of Effective Church Plants (4)

Experiential Praise

‘A community that provides people with a dynamic and participative worship is providing a powerful apologetic to people open to the spiritual yet unaware of how to connect with the spirit. Those without Christ cannot worship God. However, through such worship, these “already religious” people can see true believers praising God in spirit and in truth, a worship that will attract them and be unintentionally evangelistic.’ (p138)

Oh dear, where to begin.  I like to think that maybe in another parallel universe this could be true for NCC. That somewhere on another spiritual and metaphysical plane there is a community of people out there worshipping to such an extent that unbelievers who join us from time to time are so moved in their souls that they are immediately convicted of sin and confess Christ as Lord. Unfortunately for me, it is not happening in my world.

We do have a small group of people who labour for Christ in leading our music. They are Godly, genuine, faithful and plug away amongst a rather apathetic congregation (in part at least). We have attempted a more blended style of worship and an early morning communion meal twice a month before the morning service in an effort to encourage more participation. However, That has generally met with an overwhelmingly lukewarm response in terms of attendance, which has grown to biblical scales of indifference over time.

Stetzer goes on to say that ‘emerging churches often provide people with experiences of classic mystical practice or spiritual disciplines’ (p139). Change that to mystifying and I am almost with him. Now, if experiential praise is the hallmark of a healthy church plant then the prognosis here is not the best. If we could, perhaps, say: ‘a small and dedicated band of believers meet together to try and play/sing meaningful songs that honour Christ and glorify God through the Spirit’ then we are doing OK.

At NCC your ‘nearness to God experience’ will be determined by whether you sit at the front of the church or at the back (as is the case in most churches I suspect). If you sit at the back then you can expect to feel more of a breeze from the fire exits than the Spirit of Christ. If you sit near the front then you can marvel at the ‘joyful, if not always tuneful’ noise being made in praise of God. Healthy? I don’t know. Heartfelt? In most cases certainly. Room for improvement? Definitely.  Genuine? I think so.

Right, I’m off to light a candle somewhere.