Raised in the evangelical world of Christianity, my background provided me with a firm set of what church should be like and more than a few dogmatic beliefs.
Worship was a time to exuberantly worship and praise the Lord, thus each Sunday I was treated to a live worship band with hi-tech imaging, super amped energy, and a series of increasingly intense worship songs.
I loved it until I didn’t. For many years this weekly injection of faith, excitement, and spiritual energy were an essential part of my spiritual life and perspective as a parent and a Christian.
There came a time when I was disillusioned with it.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing was out of place. The pastor was still dynamic, his sermons full of the latest social media and cultural references and as relevant as possible. The worship band was still top notch, full of precision players and nearly perfect vocals, like an awesome concert, it’s energy still revved me up. But it wasn’t penetrating very far and faded fast…
Communion was overlooked most weeks, it seemed to be an afterthought. We celebrated the sacrament with a few moments of brief explanation, maybe once every four to six weeks with a mass passing of the plastic thimble cups and a wafer. The focus and attention for the Eucharist was far below that of the intense live worship, hip pastor, and dramatic presentations of the church to engage and entertain me.
I transitioned from the evangelical world to the Anglican in 2009. Not as a disgruntled and unhappy evangelical, but as a believer in search of something more than another awesome set of intense ‘goosebumps’.
I was struggling to find meaning in the emotional explosion of positive faith and ‘victorious’ living that my evangelical church had pushed so regularly. My life wasn’t growing in depth, I found myself stretched too thin, I felt ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. Superficial in my overall understanding of who God really was, and why things were so difficult in my life.
I found my spiritual health tied to my emotional status.
If I was ‘up’ and full of joy and hope… so was my perspective of God. If my world was stark and dark, so was my perspective on God’s will and character. I couldn’t engage the ‘joy-rah-rah’ of the hyperactive faith folks at church when my world was shattering. I found myself disturbed that it seemed no-one else was struggling with their faith, I felt alone and isolated in my doubts and discouragement.
The transition from an ‘evangelical’ church experience to a liturgical one was difficult. The Anglican way was slow, way less impressive on the surface and full of methodical readings, prayers that were scripted, and a weekly solemn celebration of the Eucharist. Very little excitement here, less spontaneity and personality showing in this service, but there was something deeper here. I could sense it.
The emphasis seemed to have shifted from the external to the internal, this was a more intimate act of worship. I wasn’t captivated by the amazing performances of the pastor and worship team, but I became more sensitive and aware of the words and meanings of the prayers, focused on the liturgical readings, and I was in awe of the reverence shown to the scripture.
I found myself longing to linger in this presence of Christ that I felt in the celebration of the Eucharist, a mystical and mysterious moment I hadn’t felt in my evangelical upbringing.
Next week.. we’ll discuss some of the reasons why many evangelicals are looking for a more liturgical experience in their church life.
Peace out, Pastor Brad.
PS – Disclaimer: This is “NOT” meant to demean evangelicals at all! I admire and appreciate my evangelical brothers and sisters, and I don’t believe any one denomination is superior to another, we are unique and different but not ‘better’. This post is meant to be a honest description of my own faith journey from the evangelical to liturgical, and how it has changed me forever.