What makes church work?

The sound system crashed Sunday morning at New Life during the 9am service and it did not bother God at all. How do I know? His presence was strong as ever, people worshipped, prayed and the Scriptures were taught.  Of course, I like it when the sound system works, but I was reminded that God is not limited by technology and that most churches around the world operate just fine without any at all.

The sound system is fine now, but the Sunday morning snafu made me wonder how many people can tell the difference between hype and God’s presence, something us Charismatics call “anointing.” We live in a wired society and we are bombarded with a symphony of sounds, instant messages, Facebook wall posts, Twitter tweets and podcasts. 

What happens when the wired world malfunctions?  Can we still hear the “still small voice of God” when all is quiet, when the band stops playing, when the lights are not flashing and no one is in front of us leading the way? Do we need hype to worship or is worship all the hype we need?

Later, a BBC film crew asked me what makes church work around the world.  I told them church was not about huge buildings or spiritual rock stars, but church works when all the simple ingredients are mixed together. There must be people who love one another. There must be prayer and focused worship of the living God. The Scriptures need to be taught and the Lord’s death and resurrection remembered with communion. People should get baptized at some point after their salvation and those with needs should have them met from the resources of those who have plenty at the moment.

I like our big building and great sound system, and I even like all the flashing lights and giant screens. I like the café, the bookstore, the Tent, the World Prayer Center, the Theatre, the Tag chapel and even the scary angel in the rotunda. But what I love most is the timeless truth of Scripture, God’s presence, the great people and the revelation that grace is all we need.

As the pastor of New Life, I hope we never substitute hype for worship or allow technology to determine our passion for His presence because the church works just fine whether the sound system does or not.

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9 Comments

  1. I was out of town on the 8th of March but was able to attend a church which had a slogan ‘Me2’.

    The meaning is so simple yet so very powerful.

    Do you struggle with life? Me2.

    This church is quickly growing and numbers about 7000 memebers (not that numbers mean anything, but they certainly can indicate God is at work). The people at this church had an openess about them that was impressive, encouring, challenging, and actually made me jealous. It seemed as if every member had the same attitude, “Welcome to our church. Forget about trying to look perfect. You have come to a safe place. We struggle too”

    Me2 – who would have thunked it?

    I recieve a daily email based on the writings of Oswald Chambers. Today’s email concerned walking in the light. Part of which contained the following;

    “If we walk in the light as He is in the light. . .” ( 1 John 1:7 ). For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.

    “The deadliest attitude…is…that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.”

    Wow.

    The message you preached on Sunday was both liberating and refreshing. Thank you for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I thank God for your shepherd’s heart.

  2. Pastor Brady, what a sermon yesterday, I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from it. Maybe the devil didn’t want people to hear it and that’s what happened to the sound. You really, really, opened up the Scripture to me and my husband, he said he got chills when you read and talked about John 3:19. I wish every person living in the darkness of sin would be able to hear that sermon.

  3. Hello.

    My name is Katrien Stanley, and I am 11 years old. My mom and dad had me come into the big hall for the second service. You preached about how telling the truth to your mom and dad helps you get mercy. After church I told my dad that I had been hiding the truth from him about what happened to his MP3 player he let me use. I had lost it, but I had been blaming this on my friend. When my dad asked me to go to my friend’s house to get the MP3 player, I also had told him that my friend’s room was too messy and I couldn’t find it. You said that parents were not supposed to freak out if we came and told them the truth. Well, on the way home from church, I tried it, and my dad hugged me for being honest. He said that the trap of lies is worse than the punishment, and that one lie almost always takes 2 more to keep it alive. Boy, that was true. After I lied once, I had to keep on telling lies to my dad to hide everything. Thank you. I told my dad the truth without being asked, and instead of freaking out, he hugged me.

  4. Pastor,

    Sometimes the simple times are the best. I think sometimes those are the times we find God the best. You are doing a great job. The darkness will pass. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t have to worry about someone turning out the light, as God is always in control. God is always in charge. Through the storm, HE IS THERE. Through the drought, HE IS THERE. Through whatever the enemy can throw your way, HE IS THERE.

  5. Marcia Alverson

    March 17, 2009 at 1:41 am

    I’m laughing as I read this! So true! Having been a musician/worship leader for my previous charismatic church, I’ve witnessed the common mistake of confusing the “anointing” for familiarity.
    A technical difficulty is misconstrued to be a spiritual barrier.
    How silly this is! I think these “glitches” give us great opportunity to remember that God really responds to our hearts, not our shiny “vehicle” of awesome worship music, state-of-the-art technology, flashing lights, etc. Hype is for us, not Him. And too much hype wears out the soul and buries the true spiritual sacrifice that God looks for.
    While I think fantastic technology is SO awesome, it needs to be balanced in the church with a true understanding of what God actually responds to.
    I reminded of Matt Redman song:(sing along now…) “When the music fades, and all is stripped away. And I simply come. Longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart. I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within – through the way things appear. You’re looking into my heart!”
    God responds to our giving of an acceptable sacrifice of worship. We come together to receive, sure! But I believe experiencing God’s manifest presence (“anointing”) is closely connected to our ability to GIVE to HIM. Don’t feel the anointing? Its now a good time to quiet yourself and really GIVE to God. You’re sure to feel him – His pleasure, favor, and blessing are always there. And even when we don’t feel Him, it really shouldn’t matter…Its ALWAYS ALL about HIM!
    Thanks for reminding us, Pastor Brady!

  6. Hi Pastor Brady …

    An additional perspective might be that the church, the body of Christ, has nothing whatsoever to do with the bricks and mortar, lights and sounds that comprise 11025 Voyager Parkway in Colorado Springs. In the same way that the Internet has “forsaken” the brick and mortar world (the one that we can touch, hear and see) and introduced us to a VIRTUAL world, (an invisible one seemingly existing “between the molecules,”) God has called us to forsake the kingdom of this world in exchange for the “virtual” Kingdom of Heaven / the Kingdom of God where He lives (an infinitely more real “place” than the world wide web, to be sure.)

    When 8,000 believers come together at 9am and 11am on Voyager Parkway to the electric lights and sounds of New Life Worship, that is merely the one-hour-per-week CONGREGATION of the Church (the ekklesia, gk.,) unique and distinct from the church building itself.

    The great news about that: when the lights (or sounds) go out on Voyager, the real lights and sounds (of the Kingdom) have gone out into the world.

    Blessings !!

    – Mike McCartney

  7. Marcy Milligan

    March 17, 2009 at 8:05 am

    I loved it when the sound system went down. As a choir member, it was wonderful to hear the whole body of Christ singing together, just worshipping with voices and their love of God. I wonder if there will be big production music in heaven?
    Blessings and thank you Pastor Brady for yor heart.

  8. Wow. You are leading a powerful church Brady. From what these posts show, people are there for the main things and understand it is not about the glitz. That speaks of dynamite people! The power of God in the hearts of His people. Personally, I am adding my prayers for a RAIN of holiness, and by holiness, I do not mean piety, or people who are known by what they do or do not do. By Holiness, I mean health, wholeness in mind, body and spirit. Your sermon was so AWESOME yesterday cause it LEADS us directly there. Truth telling to ourselves, our kids, to God and to one another is dynamite. Nothing can stop us when we humble ourselves in that way. And as for spiritual superstars, that really is worldly rubbish cause we are all supposed to be crucified to begin with. The real superstars are those who can get the lowest to serve others. May each of us indeed be healed and freed up from whatever ails us to go and “conquer” the world – By LOVING others and serving the least of these. Love what you are preaching Brady. Blessings and protection to you and the spouse.

  9. Yeah Brady you are right! You know I often ask myself when am in the church, when everywhere is booming with instrumentals, drum set etc. and the whole place go agog. Everybody now saying the spirit is here and people begin prophesy. then I asked myself how much pf the HOLY SPIRIT we have around and how much of instrumental and environmental anointing we have. Above all instruments could be deceitful believing that we have visitation of GOD, and yet HE has not interrupted just for one minute. Then what do have? Mere noise of talent display. May the LORD help all of us.

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