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Participatory Anemia April 13, 2014

Posted by worshipconvergence in Christianity.
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This morning, as I heard of a church passing out volunteer surveys due to lack of participation, I began thinking about why so many churches suffer this, disease, if we can call it that. Participatory Anemia sounds fitting. Why is it that churches can’t get the help they need to run?

One key possibility is that the church model has changed from the relational organizations of days past, to a consumer driven model. Focused on the statistics, modern churches take their cues from the entertainment industry, playing chart-toppers in popular styles, using concert style lights, casting peers of the target demographic into high profile staff and volunteer positions like pastors, worship team members, etc. This brings in the people they want, and in numbers that make things look to be going well. But then those people get up, leave, and may or may not contribute a monetary donation for consumed services. Participatory Anemia sets in. Children and youth ministries, parking directors, tech teams, hospitality and other ministries find themselves overstretched and underequipped to fill the needs of the amassing number of consumers entering their care.

Another factor may be the frequency of which help is sought. If the church is only seeking help when they are desperate, the people who feel called to serve may not feel wanted until it’s too late. Waiting too long to post opportunities can result in a “we didn’t really want you, but now we need you,” feeling among those waiting for the chance to dig in and serve. Thus Participatory Anemia can occur due to leaders withholding opportunity.

Relational ministries can’t be closed or close-minded to volunteers. How many musicians are in your church band’s roster? How many are up front most every week? How many get rotated? What does it take to get in the band at your church? Open auditions? Invitation only? Maybe they don’t accept new musicians? In an attempt to provide the most entertaining and distraction-free atmosphere, many churches have a closed band or invitation-only policy. While this lends itself to the band becoming very close musically and relationally, it also fences out new blood and denies relationship opportunities. Those who are called to serve in worship ministries may find themselves called away from your church if you won’t use them, God will send them to one who will. God may cause Participatory Anemia if He sees his gifts being squandered due to fear of a fleeting mistake or the leadership’s lack of willingness to train and qualify the called.

When a local assembly of the Body of Christ is on level ground with one another, and new disciples, who have shunned the belief that they are righteous and know they are sinners, are brought forth from outreach endeavors, Participatory Anemia should go the way of ye olde reformist hymns that refer to “the bowels of God.” The Body will thrive with servants, and consumers will listen to their favorite songs on the radio or internet and consume the writings and videos of the likes of Joel Osteen and Adam Hamilton until they emotionally join the ranks of disciples who worship with their lives and not just attendance and cash.


Its Worship, or Its Not September 13, 2013

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1 kings 22 – 19… I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’

22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.

“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

How many deceiving mouths open in God’s name and declare that worship for God is not worship unless it pleases the worldly senses? I’m sure mine has deceived, but no more. Worship and discipleship should never be conditional to satisfaction of your own sensory pleasure, “Everyone leaves service wanting more of what they liked and less or none of what what they didn’t, so ITS BEST TO SEGREGATE AND GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY LIKE,” from the mouth of deception. Hymnal vs. screen, hymns vs. radio hits, old vs. new, well-lit vs. darkness, acoustic vs. electric vs. organ, soloist vs. choir, brass vs. synthesizer… various requirements before things can be considered worship. If churches really sang what they meant songs would be more like,


“where You go, I’ll go (as long as its comfy,)

where You stay I’ll stay (if I’m enjoying myself,)

when You move I’ll move (if I feel like it)

I (might) follow You.”


When I started attending a church’s “contemporary service, I was approached by a man from the traditional service and he encouraged me to attend a “real worship” service, as he had deemed the new to be unworshipful. This encounter led me to believe that the contemporary service was for open minded people who believed that it was all for God and didn’t have to be a certain way.  To my surprise and disappointment, a new pastor took over 18 months later, with a mindset just as narrow as that I had encountered before, only this time traditional words were deemed “bad words” and had been the focus of a “swear” jar in that pastor’s previous church which was entirely contemporary. Staff in that church had to pay to use words like sermon, sanctuary, pulpit, or bulletin. Copyright dates, not language, were said to diminish a songs worshipfulness. And the age of high visibility staff and volunteers became subject to discrimination, as well as preferred marital status, because people “needed to see someone they could relate to” involved before they would come back, and by people the focus was young adults who could help increase the statistic of christenings, i.e. they wanted more babies born into the organization than member funerals.

Pleasing senses so more people, or, the “right” people will like you… sounds a little whore-ish, does it not?

Its not contemporary, traditional, modern, classic, progressive, retro, etc. Don’t allow yourself to be a conditional disciple. Don’t fall for the deceptions. Its worship, or its not.