After a hard day’s work, or one of those really long weeks, I like to turn on the TV to unwind and just stop thinking. Television seems like the best place to go when someone wants to turn off the brain. Well, think again. TV shows like Black-ish and Modern Family can actually change our brains, making us think differently about race and sexuality. The fictional characters we meet and empathize with on television can, in time, become our “friends.” The emotional attachment to these characters may change our own feelings about individuals or groups of people. Entertainment is not a neutral exercise—it affects us positively or negatively as we invite images and ideas into our minds. If this is true with regard to what we watch, how much more so with how we worship?
The Christian faith is more likely to be caught by the next generation than it is to be taught. As James K. A. Smith points out in Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, public worship needs to be the kind of environment that transforms the people of God “not only to inhabit the world differently but” to “inhabit a different world” (p. 296). Christian worship should intentionally make an effort for worshipers to better absorb the Gospel story. Just as regularly consuming entertainment can shape our feelings, a consistent pattern in Sunday worship can help us grow in Christ.
This can happen by intentionally organizing each part of the service (or liturgy) so that it flows and refashions God’s people into the image of Jesus—in mind, heart, soul, and strength. Consider including more historic practices in your church’s worship service, such as the Gloria Patri, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Doxology. Begin with a call to worship and end with the benediction. Each Sunday will become a time and a place for worshipers to be changed, and hopefully—over time—change the world by loving and serving our neighbors Monday through Saturday.