Being the Church

I nervously fiddled with the papers in my hands.  Pastor Matt had asked me to read the Scripture at the 11 Magnolia service, and I had dutifully printed out the passages in large type to make it easy to read. I had, in fact, by the start of the service, read the scripture no less than ten times. At home,  I practiced different inflections, paused in various places, all in an effort to hone my reading aloud skills for my big Scripture reading debut.  Now, the service was about to start, and I could feel my nervousness intensifying.

 

As Nick finished the opening song, he tentatively asked who was supposed to be leading the Call to Worship.  Turns out, Pastor Matt had missed his cue to begin.  This kind of hiccup might have been awkward in a traditional service; instead, Matt made a quick joke, we all shared a laugh, and got on about the business of praising God. 

 

Suddenly, it seemed a little silly to be nervous in a setting where folks are so comfortable simply being themselves.  In fact, I began to reflect on the kind of community we are building at 11Magnolia.  The small, intimate setting fosters a connection to those worshiping around me.  Sometimes I actually meet the people around me, when we break into small groups to discuss a question posed by Matt.  The service takes a multi-media approach to sharing God’s word; facebook, texting, blogging, video, skits, movie trailers, banjos… anything can end up on stage (or on the screen) at 11Magnolia.  

 

11Magnolia tends not to take itself too seriously.  What is taken seriously, though, is the call for people not to just attend church but to be the church.  Matt and Nick lead the worshipers, but the attendees are called upon to use their strengths to create the service.  Which is why, on this Sunday morning, I was fiddling with a paper print-out of the scripture I was going to read as artwork portraying Peter’s renewal scrolled on the screen.  The reading went off without a hitch, by the way.  And then, I was asked at the very last moment, to fill in for someone who hadn’t shown up to serve communion.  And, after all, isn’t that what community is really about:  serving others?

 

Sunday’s experience drove home what it means not to just attend church but to be the church.  I do not just attend 11 Magnolia; I am 11 Magnolia.

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