How to move forward when you just need to sit down | Faith | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | February 4, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: January 30, 2018 at 3:40 pm
Scott and I have been members of the congregation at First Baptist Church Walterboro for 21 years. In one of our first Sunday morning worship services at First Baptist all those years ago, Scott sang a solo. He sang with a split-track CD as accompaniment instead of the piano or organ. The split track enables the sound operator to keep the volume up on the instrumental accompaniment while at the same time silencing the recorded voices singing the demo. This was new and unfamiliar technology for First Baptist at that time. We know this because Scott ended up singing “Somebody’s Prayin’,” right along with Ricky Skaggs’ voice at full volume all the way through the entire song that morning.
We laugh about it now because we made it past that learning curve and have serpentined our way around many others. Just last month we used accompaniment tracks from a CD, a flash drive and an iPhone all in the same worship service and managed to do it without any demo voices being heard, also while projecting visual images on a screen. But what about next Sunday? We have a desire to be on top of it all, but it’s a challenge to keep up with the latest technology and music.
In the last 21 years, First Baptist has had three pastors and will soon be searching for a fourth. All three of the previous pastors came for the same purpose, but each one was completely different in how they carried it out. We yearn for more and better with each new pastor. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that yearning. I do think, however, that maybe we unjustly assign the responsibility for it to the man instead of to God.
Churches have always had a challenge keeping up with technology, leadership styles, sermon topic trends, musical preferences, community service missions and human need causes. Some make the stride better than others, but even those that do will eventually lag behind somewhere. The reason: humans. I agree with the adage, “If you’re standing still, you’re falling behind,” but sometimes, because I am human, I just need to sit down for a bit.
Hal West is currently serving as transitional pastor for First Baptist Walterboro. Hal was pastor of First Baptist Church in Moncks Corner for much of his life’s ministry. After his retirement as a full time pastor, he began working as a consultant to other churches that were in transitional situations. Hal has come to Walterboro to help First Baptist in the transition not only to the next pastor, but to the future life and mission of the church as a whole.
In one of his first sermons here, Hal began to address how we as a church will face the future; how individual lives will play an important part in the direction and influence First Baptist will have on our community. Churches (which, by the way, are made up of humans), regardless of whether they are traditional or contemporary, seem to like the way they do their own things. Usually it’s a mix of doing something different from every other church along with just enough of recognizable familiarity to offer comfort. Hal’s sermon encouraged us not to lose the meaning of our traditions, but to carefully be aware that sameness is not sacred. He compared doing the same thing we’ve always done to an old shoe. It’s a favorite, it’s so comfortable, it’s the first thing we reach for especially at the end of a tiring week, but it’s worn out.
We love that old shoe, but we long for new and shiny. We want both, but wearing two different shoes will make walking awkward and probably affect our balance. How do we update yet still remain a vehicle that represents the solid rock of Jesus Christ? How do I keep moving forward when I just need to sit down?
I found an answer in scripture. Here it is: Go ahead, sit down, and while you’re there, take off BOTH shoes. God told Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5).
The shoes don’t matter. Worshipping God does.
Worshipping God means trusting Him for the future. If I do that, I don’t need to keep striving to keep up with the latest whatever. God will take care of it.
I am human and humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). In that act of creation, God set eternity in the hearts of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11). I’m not sure I have the words to explain that, but I know how it feels. Longing — it feels like longing. The longing I have for more and better is about Him, not about songs, technology, instruments, sermons, flowers, candles, the time of day or anything else we utilize. None of that should ever be an excuse to not worship God.
The design of this longing was never meant to be satisfied by anything in this world. Having that longing satisfied will not look like the world, at all. Maybe our worship shouldn’t either.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God —t his is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
Offering our true and proper worship is not always easy. There are so many human expectations and distractions. But, somebody’s prayin’ for us.
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34
(Nancy Davis attends First Baptist Church of Walterboro, where her husband Scott, is the minister of music. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)