I just returned from speaking at a conference of denominational church planting leaders, and the event was held at the building of an established church in one of their regions. By “established” I mean “old”–but with a twist. The church had an old, traditional name. And it obviously had a long history. But it was a church that seemed to have navigated this modern age with some finesse. From the outside, the building was classically button-down traditional, but inside there was an inviting, peaceful courtyard which led to a huge multi-purpose room where hundreds of chairs were set up for worship services, with a stage outfitted for loud music. I asked around. Was this their only worship space? Yes, it was. No pews or chandeliers or choir loft any more. That page had turned. The place was upbeat, rock n’ roll, next-generation. And growing.
Connecting with Young and Old
And then I saw something that I’d never seen in a church building before: a box of disposable earplugs, just at the entrance of the multi-purpose worship space. I asked what that was all about, and a church member explained. “Those are for the old guard who think the music is too loud, but they still love this church. When they come to the worship service, they just grab a set of earplugs and take care of business.” This led to an interesting discussion. I learned that as the church turned the corner toward a more contemporary model, some of the seniors had trouble with the new music, but they loved the fact that their church was once again growing and attracting the younger set. So, rather than complaining that the times were a-changin’, the seniors came up with a plan on their own. Those who wanted earplugs were welcome to use them. (But as the pastor says, “Not during the message!”)
Humility and Growth
Today I am asking myself about wearing earplugs. How I will express humility toward other people’s preferences, especially when there is a higher goal in view? “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:10-11.)
This was a telltale sign that this is a church with an eye toward the future.