Not everyone has an iPhone. I know this may seem like an obvious statement to make… but if you are surrounded with folks who all like the same kind of things that you like then sometimes you forget.
I need to be reminded that some people have phones that run Android… or laptops that run Ubuntu. Apples are not the only fruit… literally and metaphorically.
I also need to realise that there isn’t one way to approach God. There are many ways to worship God and there are many interpretations of what church is… (almost as many as there are theological outlooks).
I am currently a member of the Salvation Army. I don’t wear the uniform although I am still “officially” a soldier. I don’t participate in the band and I am not a member of the choir. I am on the fringes… and I am comfortable there.
Recently the Salvation Army had a big shindig in London where fans of brass band music gathered to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the founding of the premier band in the Army: the International Staff Band. As part of this celebration, staff bands from throughout the world… as far afield as Japan… came to the Albert Hall in London for a huge concert… and a public procession down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. They did other things but these were the main things they did.
I’m not a fan of brass band music… apart from when it is part of a bombastic orchestra or it has someone as awesome as Lester Bowie at the helm. It’s not my thing.
That said… just because it isn’t “my thing” doesn’t mean I don’t consider it an effective ministry and outreach channel. The best people to reach brass band fans are brass band fans. This is simply reiterating that like attracts like or “birds of a feather flock together”.
Not everyone is like me. Whilst my ego would love for everyone to be like me… it’s a hard fact I have to acknowledge. I can’t effectively reach a brass band fan with ultra post-modern worship that involves ambient soundscapes and meditative liturgy expressed as slam poetry. However much I’d love to… I can’t.
Just as brass leaves me flat… so does the stuff that gets me going leaves others flat. There is not one way of doing worship.
By now you are probably shouting at me… saying faith should be relational and transcend experience and what we like… and this is true. Relationships can and do transcend the ways we define and divide ourselves… but you do tend to enjoy the company of like-minded people… it’s only natural.
ISB120 has received criticism from folks within the Army… and bless them, I get what they are saying… but they are missing the point. There isn’t just one way of doing worship and being church… and no one way is more right than the other.
Let’s be honest for a moment… Missional isn’t a “capital M” noun kind of thing… or at least it shouldn’t be. It is and must always be considered a verb… its a doing word not a naming word. Everything we do should be missional… because everything we do and everything we are should be in tune with what the Lord wants.
Was ISB120 a “Missional” event..? No way! It was exclusively for brass band fans… and people should be honest about this. However, was it used missionally… or did it have the opportunity to be used missionally? Of course it did… because people with a heart for God’s mission
ceased seized the opportunity presented. I know of one dear sister whose brother came back to God as a result of the event and, more importantly, her.
People were blessed at ISB120 and began their faith journeys there. This is awesome news and, in my humble opinion, vindicates the cost and effort involved in putting on the event.
That said… it should not be the only form of worship encouraged. All forms of expression should be given an equal footing… because they all have the opportunity to reach someone.
Consider your hand… most people have four fingers and a thumb. Think of each finger as a channel… a means of reaching someone. We need all the fingers to work in harmony. Otherwise we are not as effectual as we could be… just like someone trying to touch-type with the index fingers of both hands… we could do so much more if all the fingers were in use.
We need ALL expressions of church to work together for our reach to have the greatest effect. The first step in this is to realise that my way may not be your way… or, to use a metaphor, not everyone has an iPhone.