Our Beloved Church Props and the Presence of God

PrintHow have we, the American Church, managed to make the Sunday experience so complicated while simultaneously stripping it of the presence of God? Perhaps it’s because we suspect that God is insufficient—that His sweet, savage presence is not enough—and so we’ve overwhelmed and burdened ourselves with props. We tell ourselves we’re promoting God with our endless list of beloved props (though many are, in fact, designed to promote ourselves). We pour our money and energy into grand buildings, artistic bulletins, endless theatrics, elaborate graphics, computer effects, light shows, and cutting-edge programs until we’re too exhausted and preoccupied to invite Jesus into the mix.

At the same time, we perpetuate the spectacle/spectator mindset with our stages and theater seats as the select few carry out their duties while everyone else, including Jesus, is expected to sit there and behave. And all the while, we remain unchanged.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am not anti-technology, nor am I saying that building funds are unbiblical. But who can deny that we’ve become so rehearsed and polished that we’ve wrung ourselves dry of all spontaneity, leaving no room for the Holy Spirit and forgetting that, if left to Himself (deprived of all our props), He would be what He’s always been: absolutely everything we need.

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2 thoughts on “Our Beloved Church Props and the Presence of God

  1. I, personally, love to listen to worship music/bands/singers & sing @ church. I feel God there & Im singing to Him so much that sometimes I get tears of joy in my eyes! I love to see the interpretive dances some churches have, and the upbeat atmosphere in many churches. It is never that God isnt enough. There are many people seeking, many that are not saved, and if they are drawn to church to hear the band, then Im all for it! Sometimes, it takes those things to get people into the church. Not because God isnt enough, but because many of those people dont yet know God. I know you didnt specifically mention the bands and singing/dancing but I assumed those are part of the “props”. I hear so many people saying that its wrong to have a worship band, kids entertainment, a light show, or a coffee bar at church like it is somehow taking away from worshiping God or that we are saying that God isnt enough but as long as its bringing people to church & they are being saved and hearing the Word of God, I dont understand the objections. Its all for the glory of God.

    • Kathy, I can absolutely relate to what you say about music/singing, etc. In fact, the reason we drive a full hour to go to church is because we’re free to spend (literally) hours at a time in worship. Though most of my Clarksville friends don’t know this about me, one of my keys forms of communication with God is dance. I’ve danced until I had blisters on my feet—many times.

      The props I’m talking about are most often tangible. The thing that moves something from being a useful tool of the kingdom to a prop is when it starts to supplant the presence of God. I agree that there’s nothing wrong with “worship bands, kid’s entertainment, a light show, or a coffee bar”—unless they cause us to lose sight of the ONLY thing we need, i.e. the Presence. I’ve seen too many people with that glazed look in their eyes from working themselves into exhaustion every Sunday, spending hours setting up props at the expense of rest and family time. I’ve spent countless hours in church services that were exciting and energizing but completely void of the Holy Spirit. I’ve witnessed one service during which the electricity went out and virtually no one (including the pastor) knew how to carry on with the service for lack of props. There is extreme danger in teaching young souls that charisma and excitement and bright lights = the Presence, and of failing to teach them how to pursue Him. I’ve been in too many churches where years and years would pass without one single instance of the congregation corporately calling out to God. There are many fellowships in which praying with and for one another is a thing of the past.

      I’m convinced that if we were stripped of our props, we’d quickly learn again how to pray, how to connect with the person next to us in the pew, and how to pursue God in simplicity.

      Not too long ago, I realized that I was concluding every Sunday service by racing to my car and driving to the Greenway so that I could get into the presence of God. I was starving for Him and for the corporate experience of meeting with Him! I finally realized that my church experience was pointless and spent a season seeking God as to what to do.

      Please understand that I LOVE the Body, I LOVE the local church, and I hold deep affection for my Christian brothers and sisters! I also appreciate and enjoy technology, media, and the arts. I think they hold a vital place in the church and can be extremely useful tools of evangelism. But only in their rightful place.

      Thank you so much for your comment. I love and miss you by the way!

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