What makes a church hum?
I’ve thought about that a lot in the past three months. Since I haven’t been in the thick of my “own” church, I have visited, observed and wondered what it is that makes for holy hum in a church.
There is in me a physical recognition upon entering a church. Within the first minute (no kidding) the ethos of the gathered folk proclaims so much about who they are and what sort of adventure in living Christian community is unfolding there.
The thing I can’t get over is the power of the people. Do they experience joy? I’m not talking about yucking-it-up hilarity here. I’m talking about a clear sense that they are delighted to be present together to worship God and give thanks for the power of hope and promise in their lives.
The “production” quality of worship matters only in that well crafted and led worship displays a reverence for the amazing gift of participating in it. Are people engaged? Are they open? Are they real? Are they aware of the miraculous power of gathering to do the most counter-cultural of things as they give over their conviction that they have to be perfect, know all the answers and be a size eight in order to be loved by the Holy and each other? Are the kids loved and cherished? Do the elders walk with pride and the sure knowledge that their gifts of years and learning are valued in their church? Do the musicians make a joyful noise because they just have to share the good news? Do the gathered laugh sometimes and are they equally willing to weep when the vulnerablities of their humanity surface?
I just spent two hours with women who call the church I serve their own and I left that time so fully aware that pastors are necessary, maybe, but in no way are they sufficient. It’s the Body of Christ called the people of God in each and every church who are the most effective witnesses to the good news.
Luckily, I get to be in their midst and in the midst of the many like them who love God, neighbor, and self in the ways that make for hum. It’s the sweetest of sounds.