Noise is defined as any sound that is undesired or interferes with one’s hearing of something. For the church I would define noise as any disturbance or distraction that is undesired or interferes with one’s hearing God’s voice. Noise is everywhere, outside and inside of the church. It is difficult to get through a service without a cell phone ringing, a nursery pager buzzing, a complaint or being interrupted with an urgent need that demands your attention and distracts you from the service.
Leading up to yesterday’s services, my week was filled with noise. I had just come back from vacation and like many of you are familiar with, I hit the ground running! Our worship leader made a difficult departure back to Portugal for an unknown period of time as we await a decision on his visa status, several meetings filled my schedule, and Sunday was coming!
I had scheduled guest worship leaders to assist in our worship leaders absence, but there were several of our own band members unavailable to support them. At that point I was reminded of what my friend Jimmy Donaghy told me years ago.
He said, “Dean, I don’t stress when band members have schedule conflicts on Sundays. If my drummer can’t make it or I don’t have an electric guitarist I look at it as God wants me to do something different than I had planned. I don’t stress and scramble trying to fill a spot, I just scale things down accordingly.”
I remembered that advice and implemented the unimaginable…an acoustic worship service. I knew the couple leading were talented and gifted and could carry our service by themselves then the unthinkable happened. I got one of those Saturday night emails letting me know his wife would not be able to make it due to an urgent family matter.
I was terrified. One guy, one guitar, that’s it.
To be brief it was absolutely perfect. I believe it was exactly what God ordered for us! However it got me thinking about church life in general. Is the Church too noisy?
Here are some things I’m thinking about this morning:
- Why was I anxious about the “one guy, one guitar” thing? Was I worried that it wouldn’t motivate, inspire or energize our services? I thought of the song lyrics of Matt Redman’s Heart of Worship. “When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come.” Our souls need more simple! Sometimes I find myself over complicating things.
- Have we lost the meaning of the church being a sanctuary? A sanctuary should be more than a name we call the place where we gather for worship and the hearing of the word. I know we have erased that from our church vocabulary and now refer to it as the auditorium, but is it possible that if we recapture the meaning of a sanctuary being a place of refuge and protection could it be that it may have an appeal to unchurched people that are wrestling to find rest for their souls.
- Have we lost the discipline of solitude? Luke’s account of Jesus informs us that “He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Solitude is a spiritual discipline of making a deliberate decision to be alone with Jesus in an environment that includes only you and Him. If the church is encouraged to embrace the wilderness experience I believe like Jesus we will return in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14) .
Before you step up on your soap box in the comment section below (which I would love for you to do!), please know that though our worship services inspired me to write this post, I’m not just referring to worship, but anything and everything that can distract us from hearing God’s voice. Would love to hear your thoughts?