I've been pondering several things lately, not the least of which has been my current church life. My husband and I have been called to and have started attending a new church that literally just began. That means currently we go to one church in the morning and continue our service commitments there and then repeat the process at another church in the evening. We are usually very energized but simultaneously drained by the end of the day. However, we couldn't be happier about it because we are doing God's work in both places.
What strikes me is how different the churches are from each other. The Sunday morning church tends toward being stoic and sometimes even stuffy. Not much clapping to the music, due largely to the music generally trending towards slow over fast. It's very routine - a trait I generally prefer - to the extent that I don't know that anything unplanned would be allowed to take place. Sunday nights are exactly the opposite in that there's a plan but no concrete. I like flexibility in my churches because I sometimes wonder if the Spirit is hindered by our rigidity.
A few weeks ago, Sunday morning church started a sermon series on the Holy Spirit - who he is, what he does etc. Given our church's demographic, we really shouldn't need introduced to the Holy Spirit, unless it's like a reintroduction to someone it's been a while since we've seen. "Holy Spirit meet Church, Church meet Holy Spirit." Could we really have come to this? Sunday morning church has felt to me like a string of lectures or keynote addresses. Well researched, well developed and well spoken. No umph. Is it any wonder that the church doesn't appear to be going anywhere? There's no sense of urgency, no call to action, only a string of ways to be obedient to gain personal rewards and bolster self-confidences. Honestly, I have no time for that.
By sharp contrast, Sunday night church is fluid, organized and structured - all while knowing that at any moment the Spirit may take the service in a completely different way than planned. My first Sunday listening to the sermon (instead of being with the children) was clear evidence of that, and it was great! The pastor's willingness to sense the Spirit and obey His leading was refreshing. I almost felt like I was at youth camp again with the nearly palpable moving of the Spirit that occurred. It was amazing and the same type of "feeling" as we experienced during the preview services. I truly believe that our pastor feels that the service as a whole is sacred, but no one part of the service is so sacred that it can't be removed or skipped over if the Spirit prompts.
I grew up being taught that when we go to church we should go expecting something to happen. Judging by some Facebook comments I have read, we're almost surprised when the Spirit "shows up." He's always there, we just don't allow Him to do His thing. I'll confess some Sunday mornings I go to church with no extraordinary expectations. I expect worship music, announcements & offering, more singing, a sermon and more singing. Do you know what? That's exactly what I get. My Sunday night attitude is completely different. I expect to sense the moving of the Spirit and expect to be challenged in my thinking and again, I'm not disappointed.
Two churches - the same day - two totally different viewpoints. Amazing, isn't it?