It's Time To Celebrate

Been trying to figure out why people are going to the Evangelic and other churches over some other denominations? What is it that they are doing that we aren't doing. I mean mainly, for the most part we are all spreading the Good News about Jesus, but why are some growing while others aren't?
This past Sunday I didn't go to my congregation, but headed out to another one to see a friend installed as the Deacon for that congregation. It was a wonderful and joyous service, and I felt really good when I left. It felt so good to sit in a congregation where I could really feel the Spirit. As I walked back to BART, I began to wonder what it was that they have that my congregation doesn't? I began to think about the other congregations that I had been in not only in this diocese, but in others, along with the non-Episcopal churches that I have been it. Suddenly it hit me earlier today.
At one time the congregation that I am in was actually growing. As I think back about it, it was doing something that it is no longer doing, and even though I an others have tried to bring it back, the big “We Can't ....” has gotten in the way and I sit and watch as those who want to either give up or simply leave.
What I had realized what the other congregation and the growing congregations are going is bring Excitement into the services. They are celebrating themselves and just sticking with the way things were. Think about it with the denominations that are growing throughout the world. We often say that we can't get the young adults into the churches, but think about the our services.
What is the first thing that we should do? Get rid of the organs. My congregation decided that the future of the music in the church would be done through a computer. When we moved over to using a computer, and even still to this day, people tell me how they are so happy to hear modern music and not the old classical stuff. That the modern stuff makes them feel closer to the Holy Trinity, where the classical bores them in many ways. If the congregation that I am in were to hold a concert that contained just classical music, only a couple of people from the congregation would show up. I find it interesting to listen as I play something modern and hear people singing along, where if I play something from the classical style they will ignore what is being played and will talk with each other. It's time to dump the organs and bring in not just computers, but guitars and instruments to put into peoples hands, with modern music that will cause them to clap and dance. Last night I did the music for a memorial service playing some songs that are somewhat modern, but still has been around for a while, and I was amazed at the number of people who sang along without using anything that had words on them. I find that happening many Sundays. When it comes to the older stuff, people need to look at the words, but not with the newer stuff. In a way it is telling me that the newer stuff is actually touching people's hearts, where the older stuff doesn't.
We need sermons that really reach into peoples hearts, gets them excited, uplifts them, makes them feel as those they have been touched, makes them want to jump up and down. Time to put an end to these really drab sermons that so many give. Time to put an end to the sermons where one has to tell stories about ones self, which many times are really unrelated to the any of the lessons of the day. The second that you realized that you have used a story many times, we frankly it is time to put that story away, as when you start to tell it people no longer paying attention to the rest that you have to say. It comes across as Boasting when one has to repeatedly talk about ones self. One of the things that I notice with the denominations that are growing and with the tv and radio people is that they bring excitement into their sermons. Their sermons excite people and reach into the hearts of people. That spend time talking about the Good News and the excitement of it. They bring something that seems to touch each and every one listening.
Here is an idea that I have mentioned before, but am changing it just a little. I say that once every 3 months that it is mandatory for a priest from elsewhere comes and does the service at each of our congregations. This would all happen on the same Sunday, and I am not talking about just the one service that Sunday, but ALL of the services that Sunday. No excuses are acceptable for it not happening at a congregation, and if it does happen, the clergy of that congregation are not permitted to do another service there until after the next shift happens.
Celebrate the people in the congregation, even better yet, celebrate the congregation. I know that there are congregations in the world that celebrate their founders on a special day. If you look on Youtube, there is a great video that I saw a few years ago of a church that held a Founders Day Celebration where they used music from different eras of the members of the congregation. As they played music from each era, the people of that era would stand up and dance the dance of that song. I wish that I could find it again, and I will have to take a look for it.
Another thing that needs to happen is that the elders of congregations are going to have to step back and let the younger folks run the church. The elders are going to have to look at themselves as advisers to then, and also not get in the way of progress. Churches need to come up to the modern times and need to be relate-able to those that the congregations are desiring to have in them.
But the churches also need to get outside of the doors. The churches need to push such ideas as Home Eucharist among members of different congregations. What this will do is to get people from different congregations to meet and talk with each other, sharing ideas and activities that each other are having. One of the sad things that seems to be going on are Control issues that some have. Some seem to want so badly to control the things that members of their congregations know that they are driving people away, not only from the congregations, but from the church itself.
One of our weaknesses is that we in the Episcopal/Anglican Church is that we don't have Bibles in the pews of our church. We have a hymnal, the Book Of Common Prayer, but it is rare that you walk into one of our congregations and actually find Bibles in the pews. I walked into St. Paul's, San Rafael, Ca, and not only was a amazed by the beauty of the place, but smiled more when I saw that they actually had Bibles in the pews. But also walk into the homes of most within the Episcopal/Anglican Church and see if you spot a Bible. Then actually open it up and try and figure out if it is one that is being used. I will admit that if you come into my place you will find a shelf full of Bibles, but one thing that you will notice if you walk into my bedroom is that I have one on my bed. You will also find a couple of that are well used sitting on a shelf next to my bed. There are many things within the Bible that are exciting, and we need to take that excitement out into the streets and into our congregations.
But the one thing that we each need to do is to bring excitement into our churches also. We can't just rely on the clergy to bring it, but we must also bring it. If some music is being played that just makes you want to clap, then clap. If it makes you want to dance, then dance. If whomever is giving the sermon says something that excites you, then give an Amen. If that sermon was great, applaud. did the choir sing something really exceptional, applaud. Let's get some life into the church.
If the churches don't start making changes and bringing excitement, the pews will continue to become more and more empty. So in the comments below, tell me, what do you think that we can do to help not only build the sizes of our congregations, but to bring excitement into the churches?