Friday, March 24, 2006


“Holy chit chat” is what happens after church while people are having some coffee and goodies. What use to be called the “coffee hour” is, now, more commonly called “the fellowship time.” Does true, biblical fellowship occur during that time? Or, is biblical fellowship so much more than what typically happens after church?

True biblical fellowship involves participation in the life of another individual or group of individuals. In fellowship we learn and experience another person’s growing edge—where God is changing their life, where they are struggling and need our prayers, where we talk about what they are learning from scripture, etc. True fellowship is where we get to know another believer so well that we walk with them through all that comes at them in life.

Typically, at the “coffee time” following worship there isn’t the time or setting necessary for the kinds of conversations and sharing to place that would classify as biblical fellowship. It does lay the ground work for fellowship to occur.

It is possible for the coffee time to be “fellowship” time but it comes with a cost. The cost is the neglect of new people to the church. Think of a small rural congregation for a moment. This imaginary church has had the same core of people in their midst for decades. New people begin attending the church. The new comers leave the church after a month or two because they have no friends at the church. They feel the church is “cold” and unfriendly. The church members feel their church is warm and friendly since they enjoy the time that they spend with their friends. The newcomers never experienced fellowship at the church.

The Purpose Driven model stresses that small groups are the most effective way to bring about fellowship. People study together. People laugh together. People pray together. People support other group members who are experiencing difficult times. Group members feel love and cared for. Fellowship is happening.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Purpose Driven Worship – Part 2

Please put away your sticks and stones before reading further!

Music… the center of most worship wars. The battles are only partly about music, they are mainly about change. Think for a moment (pause, pause, pause), picture the majority of people in the “average” Presbyterian church. Most of the women would have gray hear if it weren’t for hair color (and there are men who color their hair as well!). The world they grew up no longer exists. The poverty of the Depression has been replaced with a level of prosperity that rivals any civilization in history. Most people use to be born, lived and died in the same general geographic area. My grandparents didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing. Go to the ESPN Zone in Washington DC and there is a flat screen TV on the wall above each urinal and on back of the door to each “stall.” The world they grew up in no longer exists—except for the Church.

Changing the songs or worship format can really bother a person. Their reasons are often wrapped in theological terms. “It’s not Reformed!” “The songs are shallow and have poor theology.” The list goes on and on. The message is clear—don’t change my worship!

These same people drive an up-to-date car. The big screen, HDTV is great for watching the news or the big game. They carry a cell phone. Many even use a computer to keep up with the relatives. They may not be on the cutting edge of innovation but they are light years from where they were 60 or 70 years ago. However, don’t change my worship!

Purpose Driven worship will cause worship committees and pastors looking at every aspect of the worship service. Most churches will want to think about adding a “non-traditional” worship service. Some may choose to maintain a liturgical service but there will be an effort to have that service be “the best” we can give to God. Some churches may choose to have a worship service on a different day or time. Remember, the goal of worship is to bring people into the presence of God.

The worship at the church I serve has been greatly enhanced with a transformation in the ways we worship. Our Sunday morning worship follows a traditional (sort of) form with a blend of music (we call it the best of traditional and the best of contemporary). I preach in a coat and once-or-twice a month, a sport coat w/o a tie once, and no coat or tie once-or-twice each month. The vocalist in our worship team are choir members (two of whom are almost 70). The worship team leads all of the songs—traditional and contemporary.

Saturday night we have a contemporary worship service. The music is great—if you like contemporary Christian worship music. The service has its own name (Destination 338 –338 for short—based on John 3:3-8 and our zip code of 98­338). While the numbers are still small we have new people who have come to the church because of this service.

Context… context… context… Our church is in western Washington. We are a “bedroom” area for Tacoma and Seattle. We are the second leading unchurched area of the country. We worship the way that is best for our context. Our context is not your context. Pray and ask the Lord what he wants the worship at your church to look like.

Purpose Driven worship has transformed the worship at Evergreen Presbyterian Church.

Audio Adrenaline - To Exit

If you haven't heard Audio Adrenaline is calling it quits. I must be way behind the times since I just heard the news.

I will return to my Purpose Driven series with the next post.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Worship is one of the most important things that a Christ-follower can do. There is public worship and there is private worship. Worship services happen in churches every week. The question we should be asking is, “Does our worship please God?”

When I was in college I attend a “typical” Presbyterian church. There was the responsive “Call to Worship,” the unison “Confession of Sin,” the “Declaration of Pardon,” the choir sang an anthem and there was the long (and generally boring) “Pastoral Prayer” followed by the “Lord’s Prayer,” The pastor read his sermon. He said the exact same words, at the exact same places in worship each week. Every service was exactly the same.

Now on to another example…

There is a married couple that loves each other very much. Everyday the husband says the exact same things to the wife. Every day the husband does the exact same things around the house and for the wife. Nothing new. Nothing different. Always the same-old-same-old stuff. Would this marriage last? It might. It might not. There needs to be freshness and newness. There needs to be passion and spontaneity.

Now back to worship…

Purpose Driven worship challenges us to look at worship in a new way. It teaches us to ask questions. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we sing the songs we sing? Why do we dress for worship the way we do? Do we expect newcomers to know the “Lord’s Prayer” or “Apostle’s Creed?” Why? Why? Why?

After look at “why” we do things in worship the way we do we are challenged to look at how well we do them. Effort matters, so does quality. God expects our best. We need to be in the practice of evaluating our public worship experiences.

Purpose Driven worship challenges how pastors choose sermon topics. All sermons will be based on scripture and include scripture. But how hard is it to fire up the church attendees to invite their friends to hear a sermon on James 2? The topic would be great. But would a “friend” feel compelled to visit church to hear that sermon? Since adopting the Purpose Driven model I have started doing alternating sermon series: four to six weeks based on a theme, topic or book and then four to six weeks of expository preaching going through a book of the Bible. We had a series on “Breaking the Da Vinci Code.” We looked at the book “Why Men Hate Going to Church” and scripture texts that spoke to the topics (note: both men and women found this series very helpful). We had a Narnia series over Advent called “Discover the Light of Christmas.” And just last week we concluded a series using “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller for topics. These series brought people to church! People still hear God’s Word from scripture; it just comes through a little different packaging.

Purpose Drive worship can transform the way a congregation worships.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Purpose Driven Presbyterians Network

Its time to lighten up!! The past topics have been weighty. Let’s spend some time on our hope for the future.

First… on the basketball court the state of Washington had a fabulous day on Saturday. The U of W men are in the “sweet sixteen,” the Gonzaga (I know they are Catholic) men are in the “sweet sixteen,” and the U of W women won their first round game in the women’s NCAA basketball tournament. Way to go!!!

This week I am going to focus on a positive movement in the PCUSA called the Purpose Driven Presbyterians Network (I know Rick Warren is a Baptist—its ok, don’t sweat it!). The Purpose Driven paradigm does fit with a Presbyterian context.

The five New Testament principles that it emphasizes are worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry & mission. These five are drawn from the “great commandment” and the “great commission." “Wait a gall-darn-minute,” you may say. “Don’t all of our churches do these five things?” We worship. We hope people become disciples. We dream of mission. We hope we have “bodies” to fill all of our ministries. Yet, my contention is that we do not do any of these well unless we put a special emphasis on them.

So fasten your spiritual and liturgical seatbelts and prepare for a high speed trip through Purpose Driven ministry Presbyterian style.