You Can’t Put It Back In the Box

It was one of the most exruciating “worship services” I’ve ever endured. As part of the conference I attended last week we were subjected to an experience that was put together by a worship design studio, whatever the wacky thing that is. There was singing, talk of God, and even communion. It was supposed to show the conference new and innovative ways of “worship” and I’ll admit that everyone around me seemed to be enjouying it. At least they were participating, but so was I. Unfortunately it never allowed any of us sustained engaement with God. We were constantly being interrupted to do little worship activities that seemed more suited for a five-year old. No, it wasn’t childlike, it seemed childish, and incredibly tedious.  

How far out of the box have I wandered? 

They started the service with asking us to write a six-word definition of worship. I know they were meaning “worship” as a service, but I see “worship” as a lifestlye, so I wrote, “Our lives lived in loving engagement.”  It’s not what we say or sing to God it’s how we live in him and share his love with others around us.  At the end of our ninety minute experience, however, I crossed out my original definition, to write what I had just experienced:   “Groping for reality in contrived illusions.”

And I wrote it with sorrow.  There were hungry hearts all over the room, people really wanting to connect with God, and instead of being given that opportunity they were put through a host of excercies and instructions and told this was their connection to God. I thnk many of them believed it and I honestly wanted to cry. Has our engagement wiht God become so abstract that we need activities to keep us amused or an ever-shifting set of exepriences to keep us from getting board.  I find wherever God makes himself known and people are genuine and authentic, that is more than enough to keep people’s interest.  

Yes, there were moments I could lean into God and have some time with him, but it would soon be interrupted with our time to lament, or to focus on our brokenness.  It got so I hated to hear the voice in the microphone offering me yet another thing to do. 

When it was over I turned to the person next to me who used to be a worship leader before they became a “done.”  I showed them my new definition of worship and they laught heartily with a knowing nod. And then she leaned over to me and whispered, “Once you take things out of the box, it’s impossible to get them back in again.”

It was my turn to smile.  True as true can be!  

I remember groping from reality in so many contrived and artifical settings. Yes there were moments God made himself known, but many more that were repetitive,  boring, and seemed to require a high degree of pretense to make it work. It’s better to take the things out of the box and find out what is real that invites us inside his reality and which are human engineered exercises to make us only think it is happening.  

But beware. Once you take them out, you may not be able to get them back in.  But you won’t regret it!

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8 Comments
  1. Lisa October 27, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Boy, Wayne, isn’t that the truth?  Last week, I attended a banquet to support our local crisis pregnancy center.  Saw a lot of folks I knew from many different church backgrounds.  I’ve been “out of the box” for a long time now, but have connections with lots of brothers and sisters in my community through various involvements over the years.  I looked around at everyone enjoying a meal together and thought how nice it was that we could all gather in this way.  But then, the main speaker got up to the podium.  He is a well-known author and was clearly there to bring in the big bucks.  As his message went on, I felt more and more uncomfortable.  It was such a manipulative, emotional appeal.  One of his final points was that the heart of God was wounded by abortion and only we could heal God’s heart through giving financially and supporting the PCC.  It just made me squirm – talk about guilt and obligation.  At the end of the night, he loudly read out the offering amounts as they were brought forward to him.  Three times as much as they had ever collected before – woo hoo! My heart went out to those in the room who filled out the form they provided to make a monthly pledge.  I’m sure many, under the influence of this emotional manipulation, promised to give X amount of dollars on a monthly basis, which a few months from now they are going to realize they can’t fulfill.  Then, they will feel guilty and as though they have let God down. 

    Seriously, we were all there because we support this cause.  I had determined ahead of time what I wanted to give and that’s what I gave.  I appreciated in your last podcast when you spoke about Kenya and simply said that those who wanted to support this effort knew that God was laying it on their hearts. I am truly sickened by the amount of hype and theatrics that so many feel are necessary to get others to do “God’s work”.  It belies such a lack of trust in the Lord to be able to accomplish His purposes simply by the movement of His Spirit in our hearts.  “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”  Probably never truer than it is today.  I appreciate you, Wayne. You are a true encouragement.

  2. Lisa October 27, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Boy, Wayne, isn’t that the truth?  Last week, I attended a banquet to support our local crisis pregnancy center.  Saw a lot of folks I knew from many different church backgrounds.  I’ve been “out of the box” for a long time now, but have connections with lots of brothers and sisters in my community through various involvements over the years.  I looked around at everyone enjoying a meal together and thought how nice it was that we could all gather in this way.  But then, the main speaker got up to the podium.  He is a well-known author and was clearly there to bring in the big bucks.  As his message went on, I felt more and more uncomfortable.  It was such a manipulative, emotional appeal.  One of his final points was that the heart of God was wounded by abortion and only we could heal God’s heart through giving financially and supporting the PCC.  It just made me squirm – talk about guilt and obligation.  At the end of the night, he loudly read out the offering amounts as they were brought forward to him.  Three times as much as they had ever collected before – woo hoo! My heart went out to those in the room who filled out the form they provided to make a monthly pledge.  I’m sure many, under the influence of this emotional manipulation, promised to give X amount of dollars on a monthly basis, which a few months from now they are going to realize they can’t fulfill.  Then, they will feel guilty and as though they have let God down. 

    Seriously, we were all there because we support this cause.  I had determined ahead of time what I wanted to give and that’s what I gave.  I appreciated in your last podcast when you spoke about Kenya and simply said that those who wanted to support this effort knew that God was laying it on their hearts. I am truly sickened by the amount of hype and theatrics that so many feel are necessary to get others to do “God’s work”.  It belies such a lack of trust in the Lord to be able to accomplish His purposes simply by the movement of His Spirit in our hearts.  “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”  Probably never truer than it is today.  I appreciate you, Wayne. You are a true encouragement.

  3. Jeremy W October 27, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    The Yuck Meter would’ve been high!

    I recently went to a ‘norma’ church service for the first time in a few years and actually could not bare to walk in as soon as i saw the very loud, overly emotional singing as i neared the doors….It’s like i’m traumatised by this – I find it bizarre the continual need to have 40+ mins of this for ever service no matter what. Can’t they go a week where they can enjoy silence or have something different – even within the IC?

    Maybe it’s cos i spent my teenage years in a pentecostal church, and i’m over reacting to it….but definitely once you’ve been out of the box for a lon time, for me i will not act just to please a relgious crowd….Don’t get me wrong – i enjoy singing spiritual song etc but refuse to be part of a weekly show that is more about conformity and articificiality than open, genuine freedom in God.

     

  4. Jeremy W October 27, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    The Yuck Meter would’ve been high!

    I recently went to a ‘norma’ church service for the first time in a few years and actually could not bare to walk in as soon as i saw the very loud, overly emotional singing as i neared the doors….It’s like i’m traumatised by this – I find it bizarre the continual need to have 40+ mins of this for ever service no matter what. Can’t they go a week where they can enjoy silence or have something different – even within the IC?

    Maybe it’s cos i spent my teenage years in a pentecostal church, and i’m over reacting to it….but definitely once you’ve been out of the box for a lon time, for me i will not act just to please a relgious crowd….Don’t get me wrong – i enjoy singing spiritual song etc but refuse to be part of a weekly show that is more about conformity and articificiality than open, genuine freedom in God.

     

  5. Laurie B November 2, 2015 at 7:51 am

    A couple of weeks ago, when I saw you would be coming to Colorado to attend this conference, I looked up their website to see what it was, and I’ll have to admit I was surprised you would be participating in this event. The website just about made me gag. I suspected the conference would be quite the glitzy hype.  Even the premise of the whole thing seemed wrong, along with the price of attendance and all the books and paraphernalia that would be sold (money changers in the “temple” and all). On the website they described the conference as “A ‘think-outside-the-box’ opportunity”, but they have no idea they’re promoting just another wrong box, another illusion. Do they really think this is the way to seek the Kingdom of God? THE God, our Father? Stage lights, well-rehearsed bands, contrived activities…none of that seems real to me.

    But, I’ve been out of those boxes for so long, it seems the more time I’ve been away from that kind of thing, the less it resembles anything Father ever intended for us to do. It’s very sad that so many folks are so hooked into it. How can we stop it? How can we help them see? How can we point them to Jesus, who came to point us to Father? It’s so hard to help people whose eyes are blind, to see the truth of the Father that Jesus came to reveal. They just don’t want to hear it; they don’t want to repent (change).

    But, we continue to live day by day, listening to him and following the narrow road he sets before us. We seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, and don’t compromise our convictions. We “let our light shine before men; that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven.” 

  6. Laurie B November 2, 2015 at 10:51 am

    A couple of weeks ago, when I saw you would be coming to Colorado to attend this conference, I looked up their website to see what it was, and I’ll have to admit I was surprised you would be participating in this event. The website just about made me gag. I suspected the conference would be quite the glitzy hype.  Even the premise of the whole thing seemed wrong, along with the price of attendance and all the books and paraphernalia that would be sold (money changers in the “temple” and all). On the website they described the conference as “A ‘think-outside-the-box’ opportunity”, but they have no idea they’re promoting just another wrong box, another illusion. Do they really think this is the way to seek the Kingdom of God? THE God, our Father? Stage lights, well-rehearsed bands, contrived activities…none of that seems real to me.

    But, I’ve been out of those boxes for so long, it seems the more time I’ve been away from that kind of thing, the less it resembles anything Father ever intended for us to do. It’s very sad that so many folks are so hooked into it. How can we stop it? How can we help them see? How can we point them to Jesus, who came to point us to Father? It’s so hard to help people whose eyes are blind, to see the truth of the Father that Jesus came to reveal. They just don’t want to hear it; they don’t want to repent (change).

    But, we continue to live day by day, listening to him and following the narrow road he sets before us. We seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, and don’t compromise our convictions. We “let our light shine before men; that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven.” 

  7. waynejacobsen November 4, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Hi John. No you are not alone. I know others who’ve had such sever reactions to something they used to like, and some end up with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms like this, especially if there’s pressure to fit in, or fears if we don’t. It sounds like you’re on a great journey, however, and God will help you find a place of peace…  

  8. waynejacobsen November 4, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Hi John. No you are not alone. I know others who’ve had such sever reactions to something they used to like, and some end up with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms like this, especially if there’s pressure to fit in, or fears if we don’t. It sounds like you’re on a great journey, however, and God will help you find a place of peace…  

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