It was a Friday night in Noblesville, IN. Emily and I were at the Klipsch Center for a Dave Matthews Band concert. While we were there, I found myself thinking about the church. Here are some of the thoughts about the church that came into my head during the Dave Matthews Band concert. These are in no specific order…
1. We don’t say “thank you” enough. When DMB took the stage, Mr. Matthews began by thanking everyone for coming out. Then, after every other song, Dave continued to give thanks to those in attendance. And, every time he said “thank you”, the crowd went nuts. Of course, the crowd went nuts when he spoke gibberish too…so??? How often do we say “thank you” in our churches? No matter how often you think you say “thank you”, it’s probably not enough. The frequency and the ways we express our thanks are crucial. Are we expressing our thanks in ways that are genuine and meaningful?
2. People have the capacity to friendly, peaceful, loving, and kind. The atmosphere inside the Klipsch Center was incredible. People were excited. People were being “cool” with one another. It was a very hip and happening scene. it seemed like everyone was happy to be there…and they were happy that you were there too, whether they knew you or not. How do we, as Christians, live out friendly, peaceful, loving, and kind lives?
3. People have the capacity to be jerks. Leaving the Klipsch Center helped reveal the worst in people. The same people who had been friendly, peaceful, loving, and kind quickly turned into monsters of “parking lot rage.” Again, the question is how do we, as Christians, live out friendly, peaceful, loving, and kind lives? You see, most “church folk” are friendly, peaceful, loving, and kind within the walls of the church. But, do we live that out when we leave? Trust me, I’ve been in plenty of church parking lots. And, I am fully aware that church folk are no different from the folks at the DMB concert who can quickly transform from nice folks into monsters. I’ve seen church folk (pastors included) be complete jerks (myself included). So, we have some work to do.
4. People can and will sing, raise their hands, and dance (well, I’m not sure if you can call the hippie shake dancing). And, when I write “people”, I mean all people (yes, even men will sing, raise their hands, and dance). Listening to the crowd sing along was an impressive thing. Hearing the voices from the lawn and pavilion joing together with the DMB created a glorious chorus. And, I thought to myself, “Isn’t this what church should be like?” Part of the issue is that most churches need better lighting. And, by that, I mean that churches probably need less lighting. At a concert, the stage is bright, but the crowd is largely in the dark. When we feel that it’s harder for others to see us, we feel freer to fully express ourselves. How many of us rock out in the car, the shower, or when no one else is home, but are totally reserved if we think someone might be watching? Seriously, you should see me dance when no one is home and the blinds are closed! But, for some reason, in the church we want to see everything. So, I would suggest that we try and pull the lights down during times of singing and prayer. See if it impacts the way people engage. Pull the lights up for the sermon…the pastor needs to be able to see if people are “with” him/her. But, other than that, keep the lights low!
5. People will invest and devote their time and money to things they are passionate about. The amount of money people shelled out for the DMB concert demonstrates they are “all in.” You don’t spend that kind of cash on tickets, gas, camping, food, and beverages if you “sort of” like DMB. The way the crowd sang along indicates that the folks gathered had invested a good deal of time listening/learning these songs…so much so that they knew every word and sang with a great deal of passion. The way we use our time and money says a lot about what we are passionate about. Does our use of our time and money indicate that we are passionate about God and the church?
6. We are too worried about silence. I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve been to where pastors and worship leaders have encouraged people to create seamless transitions in worship. Silence has become a bad thing within the walls of many churches. We want to fill every space with noise…whether music or speaking. We have become uncomfortable with silence. Maybe our consumeristic nature and desire to be entertained plays a role in this? If things fall silent, even for a moment, we squirm in our seats…we look around to see if something has gone wrong. And, yet, silence can be such a beautiful thing. In our hectic and busy world, a few moments of silence can become precious. The DMB concert reminded me that silence is okay…not only that, it’s good! Between songs, Dave didn’t try to entertain the crowd with his witty banter. He didn’t try to quickly and seamlessly transition between songs. The band simply paused, let the moment sink in, and then proceeded into the next song. And, it was awesome. The silence allowed one to reflect on what had just happened. The silence built anticipation for what was coming up next. There is great power in silence.
7. The band was extremely well prepared and on the same page. In the church, it is important that those involved with worship leadership are well prepared and on the same page. While it is important to let the Spirit move, I have found that we are best prepared for the Spirit to move when we are well prepared. Now, this doesn’t mean that we pull off seamless, excellent, and entertaining productions from week to week. What it means is that things are thought out, passionate, and connected.
8. Pastors, worship leaders, and church leaders can learn a great deal from going to concerts and observing. I walked away from the DMB concert realizing that I need to make an effort to go to more shows…and not just “big” artists, but on the local level as well. There is something to learn about church within these environments.
What have you learned about the church in non-church environments?