Today we did something a little different for Reformation worship. Rather than two services with different styles, we had one service utilizing the musical talents from both at our usual later time. The praise team (guitar, bass, piano, vocals) led the first half of the service, and the organ, choir and bells stepped in after the sermon.
As usual, I was a bit reluctant to wade into the logistics of a blended service. I know that some of our worshipers attend one service or the other because of musical style. Others choose to come at a certain time. Pouring everyone into the same bucket means that we’ll be missing some families that day. It also means that some people won’t get to sit in their usual seat for worship, always a source of irritation for Lutherans.
As expected, attendance was down about 20%. We were missing a good number of families who usually come to the early worship service. Five cars pulled into the parking lot for the early service, somehow not knowing that this was the one service week. Despite three weeks of verbal announcements, emails, and text messages, they didn’t get the memo.
On the flip side, the church felt like it was full, we enjoyed the musical talents of all our musicians, and we were once again blessed with God’s gifts of grace. Not all, but most of the babies, toddlers and children were there, which is such a dynamic part of worship. They remind us that unless we become like little children, we’ll miss out on God’s kingdom.
It’s different for me. You see, I go to both worship services every week. I’m OK with worshiping early and later in the morning. I enjoy both styles of worship. I know everyone in the congregation. Each week I get to spend the whole morning there with our families, children, youth and seniors.
Unfortunately, in the back of my mind, I am always aware of the reality that if someone doesn’t like the worship experience, they might not be back. I know it’s not supposed to be that way, but it is a reality in our world and in the church. It certainly doesn’t honor the work of the Holy Spirit in believer’s hearts. It also doesn’t recognize the faith of those who gather not just to receive God’s grace, but to take it with them back out into the world.
Will we do it again? Probably. For some special occasion. Maybe for my last service. Ha! That got your attention, didn’t it?