I have a 3 year old little boy who is incurably curious. When I spend my days off with him I am amazed and exhausted by the sheer amount of questions that he asks and that I try to answer. (My wife is a saint for answering far more questions when I am not home!) It is easy to become annoyed because some of the questions are seemingly simple and obvious like “why do I have to wash my hands after being in the bathroom?” Other questions are simple and yet profound and often overlooked like “what’s the name of that star?” while looking at a sky full of billions of stars. Even with all those stars he wants to know if there is a specific name for each one when I look at the big picture and dismiss them all.
What I am learning is that asking “why” is the most powerful and underutilized question in our leadership vocabulary. In addition it is also one of the main reasons people don’t connect Sunday worship to Monday.
Every Sunday we sing, pray, listen to a sermon, take communion and offering and then go our separate ways to grab lunch afterwards.
Far too often I think we assume that people know why we’re doing these things. We need to be reminded that, just like my little boy, many will do it because they are told to or others around them are doing it but aren’t quite sure why they’re doing it.
Or to put it more simply “Why am I doing this?”
Why am I singing?
Why did they pray right after the song?
Why am I taking communion?
The second question that most people don’t know to ask is “okay, so what?”
How does this song help me on Monday?
How am I supposed to pray?
What does communion have to do with my work week?
We are living in a day and age where very few people have a church background that they can rely on for answers.
We as leaders and designers must ask the questions of why am I doing this and what difference does it make on Monday of ourselves first. Then once we have a strong biblical understanding, we must then craft experiences that help people experience biblical worship and connect it practically to living out those experiences throughout the rest of the week.
Sunday needs to give us an example to follow for Monday!
Here is a personal illustration. My Grandmother was in hospice and dealing with the certainty of death and was wrestling with depression and anxiety. I had brought my guitar up and we were singing Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art and a number of other old hymns when I realized that we were declaring the hope we have in Jesus through song. We were given words over the years in those songs that were helping us in that very moment that reminded us of what God wanted us to hear. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years” and “When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation” were the words we desperately needed to hear and to sing as we faced the end of her earthly life.
Just one reason we sing is that it gives us words as a people to express God’s truth and remember it when we need it. We might not have to worry about whether or not our church is singing on Sunday if we help them understand the gift we’ve been given and how it relates to life on Monday!
This principle also works in reverse.
If we don’t do it together on Sunday why should we expect others to do it on Monday?
In addition to helping people see how Sunday connects to Monday we must take account of what we are not teaching people to do as well.
If we almost never confess sin publicly (or other gospel centered attributes of worship) in our worship together on Sunday, why in the world we think that people will know how to do it or even want to do it privately on Monday. If the only time scripture is read is during the sermon then why would it be a priority the rest of the week.
We are forming people spiritually during worship on Sunday. What we do and don’t do will often shape their lives for the rest of the week.
If we want to grow disciples that sing, pray for their neighbors, read scripture, confess their sins, are thankful and not stingy, are generous, forgiving and becoming like Jesus we must help them do these things together first. We must spend time giving them examples and experiences that they can make their own. We must help them see why the things we do on Sunday are important to the rest of the week. Otherwise we may leave them guessing at best and apathetic at the worst.
We must ask and answer on Sundays “why are we doing this together” and “so what difference does this make tomorrow?”
If you’d like a more in depth look at designing services that do this you might want to check out my post on Planning Worship Services (beyond songs and themes).