By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
My favorite moment in the church these days is that brief time of silence we find ourselves before we pray or take communion during service. However, one of the key words I hear often when I attend seminars for pastors is ‘energy’. “People are looking for a place of worship with energy,” church growth pundits say. I agree that I do not want to be part of a faith community that is passive, lethargic and gloomy. But, I am uncomfortable with a place that tries to ‘pump you up.’ These days, there are too many sources of stimulation that try to grab our attention or give us a jolt. Energy is needed, but I believe not in the way that tries to stir us up for the sake of stirring us up. That might not be healthy in the long run. We need to develop practices that gives us energy or inspiration from within, or spiritually enriching so that we have vitality in relationships and work.
I was trained with the mindset that a pastor should energize his/her congregants. I still feel like shouting and dancing when we gather to worship God. There’s a lot of excitement when people of God come together to praise and lift up the name of Jesus. That’s fundamental. Still, I’m seeing another way to energize from within, a sort of quiet excitement and energy captured in the biblical concept of Shalom.
I work with the children of PDO (Parents Day Out-Trinity’s Preschool program) and when I began to work with them two years ago, I tried to stir them up with fast paced songs. Within five minutes the kids are shouting, singing and dancing. There’s excitement in the air and I love it! The negative aspect is that when they’re in that state, they’re not receptive to the message that I am about to share. In fact, they’re still ‘jazzed up’ from all the singing and dancing. After some reflections, I made some adjustments: I start with fast songs but end with slower pieces. Then I could sense the kids being energized and also receptive and attentive.
Trinity offers a positive and affirming place as a faith community. It is not trying to be another McChurch where newcomers are overwhelmed with programs and events. Its focus is to bring people to a living relationship with God as followers of Jesus. It does this by quietly and humbly teaching and modeling the Way of the Lord. It does this through deepening relationship with God and others. As a pastor to children and youth, I feel the greatest accomplishment is when we are together and sit in silence (most of the times unintentionally) to experience God. We often think summer is when churches slow down and there’s not much going on …. let’s use this tremendous opportunity to slow down and experience God in stillness.