Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Convergence Church Revealed
I'm finally getting around to finishing reading Leonard Sweet's Post-Modern Pilgrims. I've had the book for several years (actually, I bought it a second time online because I forgot I had copy one gathering dust), but over the past few weeks, I finally put it into the restroom reading rotation (I know that sounds like it the book is not at the top of my reading list, but the RR Rotation is a premium spot in the line up because it is the only place I can read uninterrupted with three young children). Today, I read this passage and it struck a familiar chord:
Worship must become a key component to every small, separate cell group that is free to worship in its own way while integrated into the larger church. Eighty-five percent of churches now offer cell-group opportunities, each one of which should include a worship component. At the same time, hypercentralized worship services, where the whole body comes together for celebrations, becomes more important than ever.
Pg 121

Why does this strike a familiar chord? Because I did a project for a school practicum on church planting where I created a theoretical church, Convergence Church, that incorporated the ideas of "hypercentralized worship" within the larger community and "decentralized worship" within the segregated communities. (For an interesting tangential discussion see Andrew Jones posting on when the church stops emerging) My project church was a little different, however, than the cell groups discussed here. The church actually was traditional in the sense that it a normal weekly meeting day with biblestudy and worship times, but innovative in that it shared biblestudy, but segregated in worship by stylistic preference.

Imagine this, a church that has a diverse body of believers building community around discipleship times (i.e. biblestudy, homegroups, discipleship classes, etc.) but having the choice of attending one of two or more concurrent worship services of different styles in the same building. To some extent churches already do this. They have children's church or a youth service. Why not traditional, contemporary, and emerging services.

The idea hit me while standing outside the doors of Mosaic Church in Austin, TX. Mosaic meets on the 4th floor of First Baptist Austin on Sunday night. At the same time, a Brazilian congregation meets on the second floor in the chapel. The design of FBC Austin is such that at the center of each story is a balcony overlooking the 1st floor. The building is all brick and all sound from the floors below ring upwards to the 4th floor. I had stepped out of Mosaic's room during the music section of the liturgy, so I could still hear the music. Below, the Brazilian's song service was winding down with Agnus Dei in Portuguese. The Brazilian's acapella expression of their love for God met Mosaic's acoustic praise at the rail where I was standing. They converged on me and stirred my soul deeply. Different communities, one heart, and the idea of convergence church was born.

Reading Post-Modern Pilgrims today, took me back to that railing in FBC Austin. Sweet argues that "complexity is good,"(p.120) and I think its good to have complexity in the church. Complex things are rarely boring (there is always something new with them), usually testing, and sometimes fun. I think the church should share these qualities because the gospel is never boring, always testing, and brings great joy.


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