Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Flirting with Emergent, part III
When I left off with my last post I was about to describe the worship experience at Jacob's Well. But let me back up and describe the worship space. The sanctuary is typical of an old, main-line congregation. Lots of dark wood, stained glass windows, and pews. The sanctuary ambiance is an odd mix of old and new. Two large screens for power-point and showing video hang on either side of the chancel. The raised chancel is a stage for the band. To one side of the chancel there is a simple communion table draped in white cloth. The table also contains about a dozen white candles and some clay jars. A stark, wood cross stands behind the table. There is no pulpit. The preacher stands in the center aisle between the rows of pews towards the front of the sanctuary.
At 10:30, the band walks down the side aisle and plugs in. It is a six-piece band with a front man/acoustic guitarist, electric guitar, electric bass, fiddle, percussionist, and female back-up vocalist. They begin to play, words come up on the screens, and we're singing 15 minutes of praise-songs. But, these are a little bit different because the music is good and loud and has more of an alt. rock feel than other praise bands I've heard. Think two parts Dashboard Confessional and one part Death Cab for Cutie. They even do an emo version of "All Creatures of the Earth and Sky."
After singing three or four songs, we are led in a "Call to Worship" - in this case a couple paragraphs from Thomas Merton. Then children are dismissed and we're supposed to greet each other. I turn around like a spigot and discover that everyone around me has been coming for less than a month! (I estimate the attendance at between 350-400.) The band begins to play and soon we're singing another couple of songs. Following the music comes the sermon.
The sermon is delivered standing in the aisle. I might offer just a comment or two on the preaching. The other day I was talking with a friend who is a Methodist minister and I was telling him that I was going to blog about Jacob's Well. So we begin talking about Emergent and his comment sort of said it all about the preaching. "The thing about Jacob's Well is that it hasn't grown because Tim is a good preacher... except that... um... uh... actually he is an Ok preacher... no he's better than that, he's a great preacher... but he's not a good preacher." I was extrememly impressed with the conversational, authentic, under-stated, homiletic style. The sermon lasted probably 30 minutes but was engaging from beginning to end.
The sermon ends and the congregation is invited forward for communion (dip the bread in the juice.) Half-way through communion, the band begins playing again and the singing builds for another song or two. Then there is a spoken benediction and a sung benediction (really fast and rock and roll) and the service was over.
Copyright © 2005 by Thom Belote | Posted 27 July 2005 at 11:30 AM