The Church Program
Call to Worship: Sister So Deep
Opening Prayer: Pastor Automated (Please Stand)
Scripture Reading: Brother Exegesis (Please Stand)
Responsive Reading: Sister All Together Now (Please Stand)
Praise & Worship: The We Can’t Sing But God Gets The Glory Choir
Offering: Deacon Don’t You Move!
Ministry In Song: Sister Its My Time
The Preached Word: Pastor Automated
Announcements: Mother Don’t You Move! (Yes, the Deacon’s Wife)
Benediction: Pastor Automated
Well, I hope that my faux church program gave you at least a chuckle, but in these last days this type of program is far from a laughing matter. The church program is a staple in most churches, as a matter of fact we walk in the church door and almost instinctively hold our hand out for one from the ushers. Not to mention the attitude that we might get if they skip over giving us one. It doesn’t matter if you have been attending that church for 30 years, you still need a program so that you know when to stand, when to sit, when to clear your throat to sing and when to dig in your purse or wallet for an offering! We have been so conditioned that any deviation in the scheduled program might send the church members into a tizzy…or frenzy for you young people lol. Lately, church programs have become more hip and modern, on the back of most of them you can find the web address for the church, and their Facebook site, and how to follow the pastor on Twitter! Many also include super fun word searches; you are amazing if you can find the word “crucifixion” in there. They have a neat little page where you can take notes, just in case you forgot what the Word of God says, or if your unsaved friends ask you later, “what did your preacher preach about today”, you can whip out your handy-dandy church program – awesome!
What did Peter, Paul, Thomas James, Philip, Bartholomew and the other Apostles do without programs?!?
I remember a time in my former ministry where the pastor got up to preach, and a little ways in to his sermon a young mother got up to take her child to the bathroom. Some people in the congregation shook their heads and the pastor stopped speaking for a moment to direct a pointed gaze her way. A few days later at a mid-week service he addressed this by telling us that we had plenty of time during praise and worship to take our children to the restroom, and that he would no longer allow “walking” while he was preaching for any reason! So, according to the program – praise and worship to God can be interrupted with a restroom break….but the pastor’s speaking can not. OK!
Program definition according to Merriam-Webster.com: 2a : a brief usually printed outline of the order to be followed, of the features to be presented, and the persons participating (as in a public performance).
Program – Public Performance. Hmm! To be honest, my husband and I had designed a gorgeous church program to hand out at our weekly services, and had been doing so up until recently. I would scan and post it, but I am a little embarrassed lol. It took revelation from God toward us to get us to realize that we were essentially boxing His spirit into the pages of that program. We were hindering the worship of God and confining what should be his service into our….ego? Maybe, but what I learned in the Pentecostal church that I used to belong to was this: we can take ego out of it with an asterisk, that tiny little star like thingy over the number 8 on your keyboard. That’s right, all you have to do is to place a caveat at the verrry bottom of the church program which states (in bold font, of course):
* Program subject to change by the Holy Ghost
And there you go! No more ego-centric programming in our church, we left the door open for the Holy Spirit to come in and take over! Does that not sound silly? We design a program, stick to it faithfully, invite God’s spirit into His edifice and expect Him to move on our behalf when He is nothing but a guest star? I don’t know about anyone else, but I want God to set the program of my life for me, in church and out of church. I don’t want to be held captive by a program. Think about it, your eyes are closed, you are worshiping Jesus in spirit and in truth, you feel the Holy Spirit descending upon you and then you hear a grating voice say, “Now it’s time to pick up the offering”…huh? Obviously they are not on one accord.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
It is my belief that we hold onto church programs because of tradition; I mean what would ushers (another tradition) have to do if there were no more programs? I remember visiting a church one time, and since there are six of us we wanted an individual program for each person. The usher got upset that she had to give one family six of their precious programs! Well, thank goodness that she did because the service was a “show” so I was happy to have the word search inside of the program. Please don’t get me wrong, if your ministry uses a program, fine; it is not the folded paper that I take issue with, but more so the “order of service” contained within those pages. We sing a song that goes:
Order my steps in your word dear Lord. Lead me guide me everyday. Send your anointing Father I pray, order my steps in your word. Please order my steps in your word.
Yet in our worship services we try to order His steps. Irony! In our ministry we still have a “program”, but once God spoke to my husband about ordering Him around we took out that portion. Whichever way God wants to move during our time in church our will is pushed aside for His; none of the steps that man has come up with can supercede what God wants to perform during His time with us. Don’t allow traditions of men to hinder what God may want to do in your life, or in your church service. I will take a “rushing mighty wind” over the vain words of an egocentric windbag any day. 🙂
Have a blessed week,
A Pastor’s Wife