Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Are You Celebrating Jesus or the Production?

Tomorrow is a big day in the Vacher house. Tomorrow, my daughter Emmy turns 8 and we are going to celebrate big. We celebrate birthdays big in the Vacher house, because our kids mean so much to us. We have four of them, so whatever we can do to make a birthday meaningful expresses how much we love and care for each one of our kids.

So tomorrow we?ll start the day by shouting (not singing, we shout!) happy birthday as soon as Emmy wakes up. We?ll do big cheers and tell her how much we love her. We?ll give her presents and some great hugs. Then we?ll all go out for birthday breakfast where the kids get to order anything they want. Even chocolate milk.

After school we?ll talk about Emmy?s day, have a great dinner, and sing (we?re more subdued by this point) happy birthday while she blows out candles on her birthday cake. Birthdays end with hugs and cuddles and kisses before bedtime when we tell Emmy how much she means to us and how thankful we are that God chose her to be part of our family.

We celebrate birthdays big in the Vacher house.

But what if we didn?t?

What if we didn?t shout and sing or give presents or do birthday breakfast? Putting aside my own love of birthday breakfast for a moment, what if we didn?t do any of those things? What if we had a simple moment during the day to acknowledge Emmy, tell her how much we love her and honor her on her special day?

Take away the celebration and the shouting and the gifts, what?s at the core of our birthday traditions? Really, it?s about celebrating Emmy and how much she means to us. The extras are just gravy (which is sometimes part of birthday breakfast) and have become family traditions that we love to make part of these special days because of our personality, our history, and what?s important to us.

Worship leaders, what?s at the core of your celebration of Jesus? Is Jesus at the very center of your worship service, regardless of everything else it takes to make it happen? Take away the lights, the haze, the woah-woah?s and the clapping and what do you have left?

?Jesus plus nothing equals everything.? Tullian Tchividjian[quote]?Jesus plus nothing equals everything.? Tullian Tchividjian[/quote]

When we get past the things which are simply family traditions (and every church has them) and you?re left with simple celebrations of who God is and what He?s done for you, you find yourself in a place where worship is all that comes between you and Jesus himself. To be in a moment where a divine encounter between the Creator and His creation is the undeniable reality is one of the most overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and humbling experiences.

The production and lighting and fist-pumping and stage design can be incredibly effective for creating, supporting, and engaging some of these worship moments. But we should be very willing to admit that at some point they?re just family traditions. The traditions are great because they give us a common memory and some vocabulary to express how our worship events are experienced. But one some level they should be accessories on the fringes of our celebration.

The traditions aren?t the core of our celebration. The extras aren?t the end of the experience. The goal of it all is Jesus, his glory, his exaltation, his celebration. Lights, no lights, big sound, small sound, confetti cannons, whatever it might be, those must be held as the mark of a celebration having taken place rather than those being the celebration themselves.[quote]The traditions aren?t the core of our celebration. Jesus is.[/quote]

Read carefully. Anything wrong with lights? Anything wrong with big production? Anything wrong with shouting and clapping and fist-pumping? With Jesus at the center and a gathering focused on celebrating him big, of course not. All glory, all honor, all praise, and adoration to Jesus; use big lights if necessary.

Worship leaders, chase the one at the center of the celebration. Pursue Jesus with a passion that is reserved for him and for him alone. Lead people to the one who is worthy?to the one who can rescue, save, and set free. Use every technology and resource available to point people to Jesus and encourage big celebration every time your church gathers. Do everything you can to make sure Jesus is the very center of every worship experience.

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